Apple has created an amazing consumer level ecosystem of devices, media, and apps, but what's missing from its story is the enterprise developer. Apple's partners are mostly relegated to selling low-cost apps and commodity addons. There are some notable exceptions, but the majority of iOS developers do not generate significant profits. The Windows 8 ecosystem, on the other hand, represents a transformational shift in enterprise development.
Microsoft has always been about putting partners first. (Disclosure: Izenda, the company I founded, is a Microsoft partner.) Its recent entry into making its own hardware with Surface is a good response to current market conditions, but it is not Microsoft's core strategy long-term. Microsoft is sending out a message that the ecosystem has to evolve. The cloud and mobile are the new paradigms just like the Internet was a decade ago. In working with thousands of ISVs, Izenda has seen that the partners willing to adapt to the new world are the most profitable.
IT may not always exist outside security
IT may not always exist for every company. Many organizations outsource IT, and with the cloud that outsourcing becomes part of support offered by cloud vendors. Instead of having dedicated people do everything from building computers to generating reports, you simply order low-cost tablets and plug them into cloud services. The vendor automatically handles the majority of IT tasks such as managing applications and backing up data. Reporting and configuration becomes more of a self-service process for which the vendor's dedicated experts can provide assistance. IT will evolve to focus on security, compliance, and data governance organization instead of trying to do it all.
The money is in solutions, not apps
I've seen many entrepreneurs code an app and dream of making it big. The reality is that companies pay big bucks for solving a problem; this requires a combination of software, cloud hardware, consulting, and training because the end goal is often a cultural transformation.
The Windows 8 ecosystem aligns well with this idea. Many customers are already on Microsoft technologies and are unlikely to shift their entire organization to another platform. Instead, they will migrate from Windows desktops and servers to tablets and cloud services but stay on the same platform. The real opportunity is solving the business challenge and delivering an ROI with a complete solution.
Windows 8 and Azure provide a unified architecture
In this era where we buy devices online and plug them into cloud services without involving IT, Windows 8 and Azure provide a complete story. Behind the visible products like Surface are hundreds of pieces that play a supporting role.
One of the best things Microsoft has done is to provide easy ways to port existing web applications to Windows 8. Additionally, Azure provides IaaS and Paas for our customers, so we no longer need to manage our own data center.
The B2B opportunities are incredible
Over the next decade we'll see more than a billion devices ship with Windows 8-based operating systems - this includes everything from supercomputers to phones. This unified ecosystem has been a dream that took decades to come to fruition. The real opportunity is not in making a $10 app that anyone can clone, but in providing solutions that offer businesses a six figure ROI.
The time is right
Microsoft is late to the game when it comes to consumer operating system because it focuses on businesses, which sometimes take longer to transition to new technologies than consumers. The time is now to start preparing for a 2013 when all those aging Windows XP desktops are finally upgraded to Windows 8 and aging Windows 2003 servers are migrated to Azure or private clouds on Windows 2012. At Izenda we are excited to see our customer and partners embracing the new paradigm.
Sanjay Bhatia is the founder and CEO of Izenda.