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Microsoft seeking SaaS, Web 2.0 partners

Not even a club with no rules...yet

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Microsoft may be going gangbusters on Web 2.0-related technology, but the arrival of tools such as Expression and WPF means little unless they are out there being used.

To a large extent that means getting the technology used by the developer and partner communities.

Redmond already has some 35,000 partner businesses, but it is looking for more, or at least those that have a strong interest in moving into the world of web services and applications, mashups, and the like.

According to Steve Clayton, CTO of the Microsoft Partner Group in the UK, some of the recruits will come from within the company's existing partner base – such as ISVs that are looking to move existing applications into a web services or Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery model.

But he is also expecting some partners to emerge from non-traditional IT sources. "For example, we have been talking with a building company looking to embed media server systems into new houses," he said.

Other contenders are expected to come from sectors such as the existing Web Services development community, where the Expression development environment and Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) are starting to appear, as well as SaaS providers.

According to Clayton, this extension of the partner community has not even got as far as being "a club with no rules". "We are just exploring the landscape at the moment, so it is not even a club as such, so anyone can join."

He has a team of people looking at different sectors to decide what competencies might be relevant as the basis of future "membership rules" – for example, should Web 2.0 competencies be a pre-requisite for a business looking to become a partner?

The team has only just started to build training courses around the Expression toolset and the Sharepoint search server, so there are not even any directly valuable qualifications for potential partners and developers to pitch at. For now, Clayton and his team are using individual blogs, coupled to a program of public promotional events, as the primary source of potential partner contact. So in these early days he is happy for interested parties to start at his blog, where they'll find links to the other specialised activities and blogs. For the keen ones, there'll also be an email contact link. ®

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