I was flying last week and struck up a conversation with a gentleman in the seat next to me. He runs a series of Martial-Arts schools in Virginia, and as we talked he asked me “What’s Microsoft got coming out that’s cool?” He was referring to all of the announcements and products from companies like Apple and the new Droid phone. I told him that we did release the Win7 phone to manufacturing and a new Halo game was coming, but then I asked him a question –
“When a new student comes in the door, what do you do?” he replied “I walk over and introduce myself, find out his or her name and ask them what level they are at.” I asked where he recorded all that and how, and he described a process involving a clipboard, paperwork, health waivers, and eventual entry into an older computer there in the location. At some point that turned into a QuickBooks entry to bill the student.
So then I said this: “Imagine that as your new student and her mom enter the door you walk over with an iPad or NetBook. You ask names, addresses, birthdate and health info. You invite the student to observe or take part in their first class. The moment you finish entering her information, the following happens:
· The student gets a welcome packet e-mailed to them with lots of information in it, along with references to your website.
· The student gets an offer to buy equipment from you, at a discount.
· The student’s parents get a schedule of classes and events.
· They both get an “invite your friend and get a discount” message.
· A birthday card reminder is set up for you.
· The student and parent both get a reminder to re-enroll early on a schedule.
· The billing information is set up automatically.”
His eyes got wide, he thought for a moment, and then he said, “that IS cool. You guys have that software?” I said “No – but we make a new thing called Windows Azure that lets someone who knows your business write that exact thing quickly, backed by our servers. That puts someone with talent to work, and it can work on any platform, from Mac to PC to smartphone. That’s the cloud.”
And that’s what Microsoft has that’s cool.
Great post, I don't think that Microsoft sell this sort of thing very well. I've been using Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 to provide our customers this exact type of facility (Won't work on an iPad at the moment IE only - alas).
I think that this is way more exciting than the next toy released from Apple but it doesn't get the publicity it deserves because it takes more time and effort to explain and is more work for consumers to understand.
Great post... and perfectly feasible if you're programming on the Enterprise-D. Nothing that comes out of Visual Studio will run on an iPad... even if you plug in this "azure" thing you people have been spewing lately. Sorry, sales guy.
Master Ranger - have to disagree with you there. First, I'm not a sales guy - and it's impolite to call people names. Second, do you know what technology Amazon.com is using for their iPad sales page? You might want to check....
Third, You can write apps for the cloud in .NET, Java and C++, or PHP. Last I checked, those all run just fine on an iPad.
Great post. This place could use Dynamics or SharePoint in Microsoft Online services to achieve this as well.
I don't really see any of the functionality described is specific to the cloud or to Microsoft technologies in general. Nothing described here is something that couldn't have been done 10 years ago using a traditional hosted model, nor is it something that couldn't be done with any other cloud offering today or with any other development stack.
Where is the real value of Azure in the scenario you describe? A martial arts franchise is unlikely to require the massive scalability or larger resources provided by the cloud vs. buying a $100 a year hosted website.
I think Azure is great and is very applicable in many enterprise scenarios, but I fail to see the true value it provides here.
I have to agree with Bob's Your Uncle on the fact that you could simply design what you mentioned in a simple aspx web site with online forms, hosted on the school's internal web server. Then all you need is a web browser available on any phone, ipod, ipad, laptop, desktop, no matter what the OS.
Perhaps Azure hasnt got all the stars and lights around it's launch because its still trying to find it's true purpose...
Everything seems to be happening so fast, one can barely get around a new "invention", then there's another one in the making. Too much high technology can really be so confusing at times.