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Microsoft will be offering $60 000 of free cloud services to selected small software businesses through its BizSpark Plus initiative.

$60 000 of free cloud computing over two years? Sound too good to be true? But it’s exactly what Microsoft will be offering a select few local small software businesses through its BizSpark Plus initiative, a global program designed to help accelerate the success of early stage startups.

Clifford de Wit, developer and platform lead at Microsoft SA, says the initiative is aimed at building a vibrant local software development community in South Africa.

‚We really want to give small software developers the incentive they need to not only develop local software, but also the business savvy they need to take their software to market. Ultimately, we’d like to see South Africa becoming an exporter, rather than an importer, of intellectual property!‚

BizSpark Plus is an extension of Microsoft’s successful BizSpark Program, and provides high-potential startups with additional offers, products and services from Microsoft and other BizSpark Partners. BizSpark Plus offers will be made available to leading local startups by invitation in the coming months via a select group of local Partners.

The initial BizSpark Plus Partners working on this offering in SA are Bandwidth Barn (Cape Town), SmartXchange (Durban) and the Johannesburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE). As technology incubators in each region, these partners are uniquely positioned to support startups holistically.

The initial focus of the BizSpark Plus program is on the Windows Azure Platform, which helps cover a startup’s cloud computing costs. Windows Azure is a simple and reliable cloud-computing platform for hosting applications, and creating web applications and services. Windows Azure will be launching commercially in SA towards the middle of 2012.

De Wit says that by providing generous access to Microsoft Technology, Microsoft’s goal is to help startups grow their businesses. By offsetting costs that would be spent in areas like cloud computing, the small businesses can their spend time and money elsewhere.

‚What this means is these smaller businesses can focus on solving their business challenges, learning from their users, hiring more developers, investing in marketing and promoting their businesses or finding new customers,‚ said De Wit.

For information on the offers available through BizSpark Plus, please visit:


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