Microsoft launches AppSource business cloud apps marketplace

Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president for cloud and enterprise at Microsoft

Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president for cloud and enterprise at Microsoft

TORONTO — As the story goes, the move to the cloud is leading to more solution providers — and different types of solution providers — producing their own repeatable cloud-based solutions. And as those apps proliferate, getting them noticed and in the hands of end users becomes a challenge of key importance.

Microsoft announced its foray into helping partner apps get found and consumed Tuesday, introducing its AppSource marketplace at its Worldwide Partner Conference here. AppSource was actually introduced last week, but this is the first time it’s been presented to the partner audience for whom it was built.

The software titan is no stranger to such marketplaces — having built out the Office Store, Windows Store, and Azure Marketplace in recent years, allowing those developing cloud-based (or Windows-based) apps an entree to getting front of customers. With AppSource, the company extends its reach to partners who are building their own applications and solutions piggybacking off one or more Microsoft cloud offering.

“We’re making it easy for business users to discover and trial the business solutions they need, and for our partners to deliver solutions that integrate amongst Office 365, Dynamics 365, and Azure,” said Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president for cloud and enterprise at Microsoft in a Tuesday-morning keynote at WPC.

In a demo, the company showed how a single click by an interested user could set up a test-drive of a cloud-based citizen reporting tool for a municipal government, behind the scenes spinning up the database, Cortana Intelligence, smart sensors, and CRM cloud services that power the app.

While ease of trialling these kinds of cloud apps are important for partners building these apps, they’re not the most important thing. The most important thing is the lead. And that, said James Phillips, corporate vice president of business app platforms, will be delivered for partners who display their apps on AppSource.

“When you build out a free trial as a user, a lead is dropped directly into [the developer’s] CRM system,” Phillips explained to attendees, who stressed a “really easy” signup process for those delivering such apps who want to connect to AppSource.

That closed-loop lead, combined with the fact that AppSource apps will be easily accessible in a variety of Microsoft platforms including Office 365, Dynamics 365, and Power BI, should make it an interesting route-to-market for solution providers that are building their own apps. Microsoft is positioning AppSource as a tool for the ultimate users of such apps to find apps appropriate by their industry and role.

Guthrie said at launch, AppSource includes just over 200 applications, “with new apps being added literally every single day.”

Microsoft AppSource is available now.