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Real World Windows Azure: Interview with Shivaji Dutta, Senior Manager, Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group

As part of the Real World Windows Azure series, we talked to Shivaji Dutta, Senior Manager in the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group, about using the Windows Azure platform to create the Microsoft…

As part of the Real World Windows Azure series, we talked to Shivaji Dutta, Senior Manager in the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group, about using the Windows Azure platform to create the Microsoft Partner Transition Tool.

MSDN: Can you please tell us about the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group and the services you offer?

Dutta:  The Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group (WPG) supports the more than 400,000 partners globally that make up the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN). WPG is responsible for overseeing communications with these partners and providing official Microsoft guidance on certification requirements, trainings, and benchmarks for key business activities, such as marketing initiatives and sales volume.   

MSDN: What business need did the Windows Azure platform help the WPG address? 

Dutta: In 2009, Microsoft decided to restructure the requirements for participation in its global Microsoft Partner Network. As of November 2010, we’ve moved from a three-tier membership structure to a two-tier system. Now, partners work toward achieving either Silver or Gold status in 28 specific business areas or competencies-areas such as Application Integration and Virtualization.  It was critical for us to help make the transition to the new program as straightforward as possible.  In March 2010, we began working with Tikalogic, a Microsoft partner located in Redmond, to start the process of designing and building a web-based Partner Transition Tool.

MSDN: Can you provide an overview of the process of building and hosting the Partner Transition Tool?
Dutta:  The team from Tikalogic used Microsoft Silverlight 4 to develop a web application, which we then published to Windows Azure. By using Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio, the team could access prebuilt templates and documentation for configuring Web and Worker roles, setting up security certificates, and creating the different application environments. The team used the ability to run the application locally and do live debugging through the IntelliTrace tool to save on development time. It took a six-person team six weeks to complete development, which was actually 50 percent faster than we’d expected.

The Partner Transition Tool provides Microsoft partners worldwide with an easy way to track progress toward certification requirements under the newly restructured Microsoft Partner Network program.

MSDN: How did use the Windows Azure platform to meet the security requirements for the Partner Transition Tool?

Dutta: In rolling out the tool, we needed to ensure the highest levels of data security, so partners know that their business information is fully protected every time they interact with the application. We built on support in Windows Azure for user authentication through the Windows Live ID service to meet this goal.  

In addition to providing us with a rigorous security mechanism, partners don’t need to remember a separate password to access the Partner Transition Tool site. They can just use their Windows Live ID credentials that they established as part of their partner profile.

MSDN: What kinds of benefits have you realized through the use of Windows Azure?

Dutta: The Partner Transition Tool has provided a way for partners in more than 140 countries to ease the transition to the new MPN program requirements. Over the first couple of months since it’s been live, we’ve seen usage of the tool double, and partners continue to tell us that the interface provides an easy way to find all the information that they need. In addition to saving at least three weeks on the development and rollout of the application, we saved on infrastructure costs without sacrificing scalability. Now we have the network resources that we need in place to handle the continued adoption of the tool, and we can scale back quickly and efficiently as the need for the tool declines over time.

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To read more Windows Azure customer success stories, visit: www.windowsazure.com/evidence