Microsoft’s BizSpark Plus, a program designed to accelerate the success of technology startups, expanded its range of startup services by announcing $60,000 in free Windows Azure compute and storage over a period of 24 months for select startup accelerators. Specifically, the BizSpark Plus startup accelerator TechStars will allow TechStars accelerators in Boulder, Boston, New York, Seattle and Texas to provide the designated $60,000 in free Windows Azure services to each of their respective startups. In addition to TechStars, Microsoft is extending the offer of free Windows Azure services to startup founders that belong to a technology accelerator within the Global Accelerator Network, a network of roughly 40 startup accelerators that are similar to TechStars. The expanded relationship between Microsoft Corporation and the startup accelerator community represents an astute strategic move on the part of Microsoft insofar as it constitutes a golden sales and marketing opportunity to seed its Windows Azure platform in the IT infrastructure of up and coming technology startups all over the world.
Rackspace formally announced a program designed to target start-up companies as customers for its cloud computing products and services on March 11. Titled the “Rackspace Startup Program,” the strategy makes available Rackspace’s cloud computing offering to startups that are part of incubator and accelerator programs such as 500 Startups, TechStars, Y Combinator and General Assembly. Based on the understanding that Rackspace itself was a startup, the program offers customized guidance about deploying applications within a cloud computing environment alongside its Rackspace and OpenStack cloud resources. The program offers yet another illustration of divergences between Rackspace’s business model and that of Amazon Web Services. Whereas Amazon Web Services represents a pure product offering, Rackspace provides product enhanced services that complement its cloud offering with consulting services such as those recently formalized by its Cloud Builders service line. Dubset marks an example of a startup that uses Rackspace’s services to stream music and track and perform analytics on what gets played. In a note on Rackspace’s blog, Dubset reports that their “costs are low and we never have to worry about our Cloud Servers.” Alongside the release of its Startup Program, Rackspace also announced the availability of version 2.0 of its cloud computing application, Rackspace Cloud 2.0, which can additionally be accessed by iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The free iPhone and iPod Touch application enables cloud managers and development teams to access and transform their cloud computing environments while away from their desktop or laptop consoles.