Microsoft Startupzone - promoting SaaS and innovation

Some weeks ago I blogged about the smart people at Microsoft's Architecture Strategy team  who are writing about  Software as a Service.  Gianpaulo Carraro has been spreading the word at every opportunity, most recently at SIIA's OnDemand Summit in San Jose.  Last week I had a very interesting session with Dave Drach of Microsoft's Emerging Business Team.  This group works with venture capitalists (VCs) and start-up companies worldwide to enable and encourage innovation using Microsoft technology.  It's entirely logical they should be doing this, as a significant proportion of software solutions will be delivered as SaaS - 25% by 2011 if Gartner is to be believed.  Many startups and SaaS companies use the LAMP stack to make use of the Open Source cost model, but many (such as Twinfield) have adopted Microsoft .NET and SQL Server technology, because of its robustness and scalability, and Microsoft want to improve the odds in their favour in the SaaS market.  They can already, quite legitimately, claim that the largest online SaaS offering that there is uses Microsoft technology - it's called MySpace
If you go to their Startupzone, you can find out about their various partner programmes, marketing initiatives, and special licence deals for startups.  An online profiler allows the startup business to explain their proposition, and get directed to the correct member of the team to start the ball rolling on potential cooperation.  The site itself has blog posts from all of the team members involved, with some useful insights.  I had a great chat with Dave, swapping stories about our ERP background and credentials - he comes from Great Plains, and before that Boeing Computer Services and Ernst & Young.  My impression of him, and reading the blogs, is that this corner of Microsoft is much more business oriented rather than technology focused, probably because many of the team come from the more recent Microsoft acquisitions.  I'll be investigating this further in the coming weeks to see how useful it might be, but at face value this looks very interesting. 
Update: Dave blogged about our meeting: You just have to go to Europe to find good Microsoft SaaS 

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