Microsoft Windows Azure - Intuit Software Services Expands Development Platform Case Study
Windows AzureCustomer Solution Case Study00Intuit Expands Development Platform, Brings Cloud Apps to Millions of Small Businesses<br />OverviewCountry or Region: United StatesIndustry: Software engineeringCustomer ProfileBased in Mountain View, California, Intuit had 2009 revenue of U.S.$3.2 billion. The financial software company has approximately 7,800 employees with major offices in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.Business SituationThe company wanted to enhance its popular Intuit Partner Platform by offering cloud-based, highly scalable applications and services and end-to-end solutions through the Intuit App Center.SolutionIntuit chose Windows Azure as a platform for small-business cloud application development and released the Windows Azure Software Development Kit for the Intuit Partner Platform.BenefitsSimplifies development of rich, scalable solutionsSpeeds time-to-market, expands market baseImproves one-stop shopping for end-to-end solutionsReduces latency to improve services“What’s most exciting about bringing Windows Azure into the Intuit Partner Platform is that developers now have a best-in-class ‘platform as a service’ to both build applications and deliver them to market.”Alex Chriss, Director, Intuit Partner Platform, Intuit In 2009, Intuit launched the Intuit Partner Platform (IPP) to help developers build software-as-a-service applications that integrate with data in QuickBooks—the popular financial software. In 2010, to make it easier for IPP developers to create scalable cloud-based applications, Intuit combined IPP with the capabilities of the Windows Azure platform in a partnership with Microsoft. The company also released the Windows Azure Software Development Kit for the Intuit Partner Platform. Now, developers quickly produce applications using the familiar technology of the Windows Azure environment and market them to millions of customers through the Intuit App Center. Customers benefit from one-stop shopping for an increasing selection of applications—soon including the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite—that can be combined to create end-to-end solutions.<br />Situation<br />Founded in 1983, Intuit is a leading provider of business and financial management solutions for small and midsize businesses; financial institutions, including banks and credit unions; consumers; and accounting professionals. Its flagship products and services, including QuickBooks, Quicken, and TurboTax, simplify small business management and payroll processing, personal finance, and tax preparation and filing. The company has a growing worldwide user base of 50 million.<br />In recent years, Intuit has focused on using emerging cloud computing technologies to help businesses operate more efficiently. In 2008, Intuit unveiled its Connected Services strategy—a collection of online services that support delivering software as a service (SaaS), accessing data in its QuickBooks products, and connecting users to each other within the Intuit small business network. To promote this strategy, the company also introduced the Intuit Partner Platform (IPP). IPP is a set of technologies, services, tools, and other resources that developers can use to quickly and easily build their own SaaS applications (or “federate” existing applications) that are capable of integrating QuickBooks data. The developers can then sell their applications to potentially millions of small-business customers through the Intuit App Center. Customers can choose from a wide range of applications that work with QuickBooks data and are customized for a variety of industry verticals to purchase.<br />“Intuit is increasingly becoming a cloud-based company,” says Alex Chriss, Director, Intuit Partner Platform at Intuit. “This year, 50 percent of our revenue will come from Connected Services. As we look into the future, we see the increased importance of delivering more cloud-based offerings and making them available to a variety of different connected devices.”<br />Intuit wanted to help third-party developers easily create highly scalable applications and services in the cloud, without a lot of programming or an extensive IT infrastructure to maintain. The company wanted the solution to be standardized on a single, familiar platform to simplify the development process and increase the interoperability of applications developed by multiple vendors. The solution would need to be able to scale to meet large traffic bursts and be affordable, secure, and easy to manage. Intuit also wanted to expand the role of its App Center as a central, comprehensive, convenient destination for customers as they select solutions. Finally, Intuit wanted to improve overall service by taking its Microsoft Alliance Partnership to the next level. <br />Solution<br />In late 2009, Intuit chose to work with Microsoft to combine IPP with the flexibility, reliability, and scalability of the Windows Azure platform. Windows Azure serves as a preferred platform for the development, service-hosting, and service-management environment for third-party applications. It provides developers with on-demand computing and storage to host, scale, and manage web applications on the Internet through Microsoft data centers. Other key components of the platform include Microsoft SQL Azure to simplify provisioning and deployment of multiple relational databases and Windows Azure platform AppFabric to help developers connect applications and services in the cloud or on-premises. “The Business Productivity Online Standard Suite offers best-in-class solutions for productivity, communication, and collaboration. It’s an ideal complement to our Intuit offerings.”Alex Chriss, Director, Intuit Partner Platform, Intuit Development work for the project was performed using the Microsoft .NET Framework and the Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition development system. <br />On January 20, 2010, after testing to ensure compatibility of the two companies’ platform services, Intuit officially named Windows Azure as a standard preferred platform for small-business cloud application development. The company also released a beta version of the Windows Azure Software Development Kit for the Intuit Partner Platform (Windows Azure SDK for IPP). The general availability release of the SDK was on April 6, 2010. “We chose Windows Azure because Microsoft is a clear leader in cloud computing,” says Jeff Collins, Architect, Intuit Partner Platform at Intuit. He added that another important reason for choosing Windows Azure as a preferred cloud platform was the ability to provide complete end-to end offerings to the Intuit community of nearly 90,000 registered Intuit Developer Network members, each with unique programming backgrounds and abilities.<br />Intuit also announced that, later in 2010, its Intuit App Center would offer the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite, including Microsoft SharePoint Online, Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft Office Live Meeting, and Microsoft Office Communications Online. “The Business Productivity Online Standard Suite offers best-in-class solutions for productivity, communication, and collaboration. It’s an ideal complement to our Intuit offerings and is a key component of our strategy to give customers end-to-end solutions,” says Chriss.<br />Another key technology that will enhance IPP is the Microsoft Silverlight browser plug-in, a graphical environment for creating rich, engaging, interactive media applications for the web, desktop, and mobile devices. “We see Silverlight as being an important technology option for our developers, and when it’s the best breed for the environment that we’re building for, Silverlight is the logical choice,” says Collins. ”We see including the support of Silverlight development for our platform technology as a priority for us today.” <br />Benefits<br />With the combination of the Windows Azure platform and the Intuit Partner Platform, developers can easily create feature-rich, highly scalable cloud-based applications. Developers can also quickly deliver applications to an audience of millions of small businesses through the Intuit App Center. Small business customers gain the convenience of one-stop shopping at the App Center and by choosing from the wide selection of applications and end-to-end solutions. <br />Simplifies Development of Rich, Scalable Solutions<br />IPP developers now benefit from ready access to Windows Azure technologies. “Microsoft has built an enormous development community and solid tools around the .NET Framework and Visual Studio technologies,” says Alex Barnett, Group Manager, Developer Relations at Intuit. “Windows Azure takes full advantage of these technologies and also works across multiple languages. Now, IPP developers can leverage these resources in a familiar development environment as they build new applications.” Through QuickBooks, Intuit also built a data asset that allows developers to make their applications work together in ways that drive business value. As a result, less work is required for developers to access powerful functionality. He adds, “With Windows Azure, scalability, reliability, and security are handled by the platform itself, so developers are free to focus on addressing core customer needs.” Barnett recommends that developers download the SDK right away to see for themselves how easy it is to get started.<br />Developers and customers alike benefit from the cost-effectiveness and easy management of a hosted computing approach. “Running applications in a data center involves operational costs, management of multiple systems, and the need to keep up with all the things that might go wrong on a day-to-day basis. Windows Azure is the perfect solution,” says Collins.<br />Intuit believes the platform also helps reduce time and worry regarding security. “At Intuit, we put a premium on the security of our data. Our small businesses have to be able to trust us to store their data, and we have to trust our partners. The design of Windows Azure demonstrates a commitment to security, and we feel the security and reliability of Windows Azure are at a level that gives us high confidence in the platform,” says Collins.<br />Speeds Time-to-Market, Expands Market Base<br />Because using IPP with Windows Azure reduces development effort, many developers can produce applications in weeks, instead of months, and get them to market that much faster. “Our developers find that Windows Azure is easy to use, quick to build on, and very agile,” says Collins. After the applications are completed, the developers have ready access to marketing resources from Intuit. The Intuit App Center offers targeted applications for millions of small businesses, including specific industries and vertical markets. This provides new business opportunities for developers.<br />“We have broad-ranging small-business channels—a tremendous customer base of businesses—and we want to help connect them with relevant and targeted applications and services created by developers. What’s most exciting about bringing Windows Azure into the Intuit Partner Platform is that developers now have a best-in-class ‘platform as a service’ to both build applications and deliver them to market,” says Chriss.<br />Barnett also notes that Windows Azure developers have the option of joining the Microsoft Front Runner program to access Microsoft technical support and marketing resources, in addition to those provided by Intuit. He adds, “With both the platform and the marketing taken care of, developers can focus on creating great code.”<br />Improves One-Stop Shopping for End-to-End Solutions<br />IPP also helps customers by providing an expanded selection of well-integrated applications available in the App Center. That means businesses can obtain applications in one place as they assemble complete solutions. Chriss says, “Businesses work end to end: they need front-office solutions and back-office solutions. Intuit has built a nice set of offerings for the back office. Now, for the front office, we’re incredibly excited to add the Business Productivity Online Standard Suite, which addresses customers’ productivity and collaboration needs with best-in-class performance. With all those applications, together with third-party offerings, we’re able to provide complete end-to-end solutions for small businesses.” As a result, Intuit is able to reach new customers and grow its own business further.<br />“With Windows Azure, scalability, reliability, and security are handled by the platform itself, so developers are free to focus on addressing core customer needs.”Alex Barnett, Group Manager, Developer Relations, Intuit <br />“When businesses come to our App Center, they’ll find apps that work well together and handle functionality, such as identity management and single sign-on, so that customers don’t have to worry about it. Customers also have a simple, common billing procedure as they select their apps, so the experience will be convenient. Soon, we’ll be adding to that convenience by offering the Business Productivity Online Standard Suite in the same location, making it easy for customers to select all the apps they need to get started running their business,” says Collins.<br />Concludes Chriss, “We’re very confident that what we’ve developed with the Intuit Partner Platform is going to make the lives of small businesses easier. Their data is now going to be able to move between whatever applications they have on whatever devices or platforms they’re using. We believe that the Intuit Partner Platform and the Microsoft platform coming together is really solving an end-to-end need.”<br />Software and ServicesWindows Azure PlatformWindows AzureWindows Azure Platform AppFabricMicrosoft SQL AzureMicrosoft Online ServicesMicrosoft Business Productivity Online Standard SuiteMicrosoft Visual StudioMicrosoft Visual Studio 2008 Professional EditionTechnologiesMicrosoft .NET FrameworkMicrosoft SilverlightWindows Azure Software Development KitThis case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.Document published July 2010For More InformationFor more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:www.microsoft.comFor more information about Intuit products and services, call (650) 944-6000 or visit the website at: www.intuit.comWindows Azure Platform<br />The Windows Azure platform provides an excellent foundation for expanding online product and service offerings. The main components include:<br />Windows Azure. Windows Azure is the development, service hosting, and service management environment for the Windows Azure platform. Windows Azure provides developers with on-demand compute and storage to host, scale, and manage web applications on the Internet through Microsoft data centers.<br />Microsoft SQL Azure. Microsoft SQL Azure offers the first cloud-based relational and self-managed database service built on Microsoft SQL Server 2008 technologies.<br />Windows Azure platform AppFabric. With Windows Azure platform AppFabric, developers can build and manage applications more easily both on-premises and in the cloud.<br />AppFabric Service Bus connects services and applications across network boundaries to help developers build distributed applications.<br />AppFabric Access Control provides federated, claims-based access control for REST web services.<br />Microsoft "
Developers and information workers can use the new service code-named Dallas to easily discover, purchase, and manage premium data subscriptions in the Windows Azure platform.<br />To learn more about the Windows Azure platform, visit: www.windowsazure.com<br />