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Microsoft, Accenture Wrap Azure Cloud Deal

Accenture becomes the first consulting company to offer customers a single contract to build, deploy, and manage applications on the Azure platform.
10 CIOs: Career Decisions I'd Do Over
10 CIOs: Career Decisions I'd Do Over
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Microsoft has signed a deal with Accenture that makes the IT consulting firm the first authorized to sell an end-to-end public cloud solution on the Windows Azure platform. Under the agreement, customers can sign a single contract for Accenture and its Avande subsidiary to build, deploy, and manage applications on the Azure platform.

The agreement allows Microsoft and Accenture to compete on more even terms with the likes of CSC, which also offers consulting services and application design destined for its own cloud data centers. Likewise, IBM's and HP's global consulting services organizations are increasingly producing software implementations and services within their own infrastructure-as-a-service or platform-as-a-service offerings.

Other than sparing the customer from negotiating separate application development and cloud contracts, the agreement doesn't change much. Accenture and Avanade have already been building systems to run on Azure, some of them for social collaboration. For more than two years, Accenture and Avanade have done many projects for clients that run on both the customer's premises and in Azure. In 2011, Accenture and Avanade staff spent 170,000 hours on the development of projects, with 40 Windows Azure-based projects delivered to customers that year, said Avanade's CEO Adam Warby, in the announcement Tuesday.

[ Learn more about Microsoft Azure's strengths and weaknesses. See Azure Outage Caused By False Failure Alarms. ]

"Our clients are increasingly looking to generate the business benefits of moving into the cloud. We can offer the capabilities, flexibility, and innovation to help them on their journey," said Paul Daugherty, chief technology architect and global cloud services lead for Accenture, in the announcement. Accenture is an outsourcing, consulting, and technology services company with 246,000 employees worldwide. Accenture and Avanade have together trained and certified more application developers for the Windows Azure platform out of all Microsoft partners.

The two firms have skills in producing mobile applications for Azure and in using SQL Server on premises to synch with SQL Azure on the Azure platform. Microsoft is a leading supplier of platform-as-a-service, with both Microsoft languages and tools offered on Azure, along with some non-Microsoft offerings, such as open source PHP.

As companies increase their use of cloud-based applications, IT and security professionals must make some tough and far-reaching decisions about how to provision, deprovision, and otherwise manage user access. This Dark Reading report, How To Manage Identity In The Public Cloud, examines the options and provides recommendations for determining which one is right for your organization. (Free registration required.)