Frequently Asked Questions
The Windows Azure Marketplace (WAM) is a Windows Azure powered Information service that provides developers and information workers access to third-party premium data sets and web services. The Marketplace also enables self-service business intelligence and analytics over stored data sets using existing Microsoft technologies. With the power and scale of the Windows Azure (Windows Azure, Windows Azure SQL Database), the Marketplace provides developers with the ability to build and manage innovative applications across the desktop and mobile devices by bringing together disparate sets of private and public data, both on premises and in the cloud, via a single marketplace. The Marketplace enables developers to access complex data sets to build entirely new analytic and reporting scenarios. And content providers are able to expose their data to millions of developers on a global level, enabling new growth and revenue opportunities. And with support for OData, the Marketplace makes it easy to support rich query capabilities to power mash-ups and associations.
How does the Windows Azure Marketplace (WAM) work?
The Marketplace brings data and imagery from leading commercial data providers and authoritative public data sources together into a single location, under a unified provisioning and billing framework. Additionally, the Marketplace APIs allow developers and information workers to consume this premium content with any platform, application, or business workflow. The Marketplace allows Office, Excel, and SQL Server customers to instantly ‘mash up’ private data with Marketplace content enabling new scenarios around analytics and reporting.The Marketplace uses secure REST-based APIs to deliver information to any client. It uses Windows Azure features such as Windows Azure compute, storage, tables, SQL Database, and App Fabric to handle all aspects of an information marketplace.
How does the Windows Azure Marketplace (WAM) utilize Windows Azure?
The Marketplace is an information and brokerage service that utilizes Windows Azure and SQL Database platform services. The entire service and user experience leverages Windows Azure compute for maximum scale. Blob data such as imagery and videos are stored in Windows Azure blob storage. All relational content is stored in SQL Database. The Windows Azure ACS allows federated identity scenarios for the Marketplace.
What is the opportunity for partners?
Content providers can reach new markets with their data on the Marketplace. Partners get improved developer productivity through automatically generated APIs and client side libraries, the ability to expose this content easily within Microsoft Office and SQL Server assets. Best of all – content providers get reports on data usage, sales, as well as the ability to set pricing, terms, and constraints for per-transaction and subscription offers.
What is the opportunity for customers?
The Marketplace provides developers and information workers access to third-party data, web services, and self-service business intelligence and analytics which they can access either on the desktop or mobile devices. The Marketplace allows clean, consistent APIs to all datasets and simple, easy to understand payloads in ATOM & RAW formats with support for OData. In addition, developers get proxy classes to use these services, removing the tedious job of dealing with XML code.
What is the revenue opportunity for content providers?
The Marketplace allows content providers to offer their products through Microsofts marketplace, opening a frictionless distribution channel on a global scale. Additionally, the Marketplace allows content providers to explore new growth opportunities by targeting their high-value data sets to target consumers and developers.
What are the benefits for developers consuming the data via the Marketplace?
The Marketplace provides developers with the ability to create entirely new scenarios by building applications with private and public data sets from any platform (Microsoft or third party such as iPhone or Google App Engine) which can be consumed across the web, desktop, and mobile devices. The Marketplace provides developers with:
Consistent REST based APIs across all datasets facilitate development on any platform.
Automatic C# proxy classes provide instant object models and eliminate the need to write tedious XML and web service code.
Build new BI and reporting tools which ‘mash up’ with Microsoft Office products and SQL Server.
Via a plug-in, integration with Microsoft PowerPivot, to work easily with the data in Microsoft Excel.
What are the benefits for information workers consuming the data via the Marketplace?
Through new BI and reporting tools, information workers can discover and consume reference data in entirely new ways inside Excel and SQL Server. The Marketplace provides information workers with a simple, predictable business model for acquiring Reporting and BI content, the ability to consume data from SQL Server, SQL Database, and other Microsoft Office assets.
What are the benefits for content providers to put their data in the Marketplace?
The Marketplace leverages content providers data in an entirely new way which creates new revenue opportunities by providing a new channel to reach Microsofts global developer community to build new applications with disparate data sets. The Marketplace provides content providers with:
Easy publication and on-boarding process regardless of blob data, structured data, or dynamic web services. Developer tooling on the Microsoft platform to ease Visual Studio and .NET development. In addition, community and ISVs can build tooling for the Marketplace which can be used on any non-Microsoft platform.
Content discovery and integration inside Microsoft Office and SQL Server.
Scalable Microsoft cloud computing platform handles storage, delivery, billing, reporting.
Secure environment that allows content providers to grant end consumer use rights on their data to ensure that they are still in control of how their data is consumed.
As content providers continue to add their data to the Marketplace service, how do web developers benefit?
As content providers in the following verticals/ focus areas: premium news, locations, financial, real estate and demographic data continue to make their data available in the Marketplace service, developers have the opportunity to access, share, and build compelling applications, which utilize third party data. As well as extract third party data in the Marketplace via the OData web protocol to run applications cross platform, creating new growth and revenue opportunities.
How does Microsoft ensure that data stored on the Marketplace is secure?
Content providers can control use rights. The data is secured by Microsoft via Windows Azure; access is also SSL secured.
How does the Marketplace support Office and SQL Server?
The Marketplace enables the consumption of data via deep integration in Microsofts Information Worker software. Today, via plug-ins developers can port their data to PowerPivot for Excel and Microsoft Excel with just one click. In the future, we will support similar functionality for SQL Server and SQL Database and other Microsoft products.
How is the Marketplace connected to Microsoft’s Marketplace? How does this relate to Microsoft’s Pinpoint offering?
The Marketplace uses the Pinpoint marketplace to enable discovery of the content catalog and has a landing page on Pinpoint.
Can partners and customers expect SLA’s to be in place when the service is commercially available?
Yes. We will share additional details about the Marketplace SLAs at a later date.
The Marketplace definitely has the “cool” factor, but what is the value/benefit for companies to invest in this?
Developers can discover and consume disparate sets of data via a single marketplace to build applications for the Windows Azure that can scale in a way that other cloud platforms today cannot, allowing them to reach millions of information workers on a global scale. The Marketplace also enables content providers to reach millions of developers on a global scale with their data and web services in a virtually frictionless experience. This means new growth and revenue opportunities for content providers that do not exist today.
Where is the data stored? Who can access it besides the content providers and customers?
The data can be stored in the Windows Azure as well as 3rd party platforms and is accessed via secure REST based web services. Through the Marketplace APIs, developers experience the same clean interface no matter where their data is stored, whether that be over Windows Azure Blob Store, Windows Azure Tables, SQL Database, or 3rd party web services. Content providers have full control of whether or not the data they supply to the Marketplace can be consumed for private or public use. Content providers grant end consumer use rights on their data to ensure they are in control of how their data is consumed.
Who are the content providers providing content with Microsoft today? Do you have any customers using it today?
The publishers that make their data available through the Marketplace is constantly growing. To see the current data publishers go to the Publishers tab at the Marketplace site.
Can you give me an example of when a customer might want to use this?
Take a company that wants to open store locations in new global markets that they are not familiar with. They can use the Marketplace to access demographic and crime data to gain insight into where higher crimes are happening in order to identify the best location. They can then use this data to identify new store locations as well as demographic data to create effective marketing campaigns providing an opportunity to increase sales. Or another example, if a company is trying to determine why their sales of winter clothes are up in specific area or market in a given month, they can use weather data in the Marketplace to figure out that the weather was unusually cold in that area accounting for the spike of winter clothes sales. This also helps plan for inventory needs in specific areas.
Is there anything else like this in the market today? Is this a competitive advantage for MSFT over Google & Amazon?
The Marketplace is a unique service that brings together premium, private data on premise with data in the cloud which allows developers to access and consume commercial content and data via secure REST APIs across the desktop, mobile, and web. Microsoft differentiates itself from Amazon, Google or any other competitor in a fundamental way by providing customers the flexibility to use on-premises technology, cloud technology or both, as part of Microsoft’s software-plus-services (S+S) strategy. The Marketplace is an example of how Microsoft can deliver the most comprehensive set of services, spanning from consumer to business and offering developers the most inclusive onramp to the cloud.
How does this fit into Microsoft’s broader cloud and S+S strategy?
The Marketplace connects data stored on-premise with data stored in the cloud to enable not just new application development scenarios but also BI, reporting, trending, etc on interesting data, either local or remote.
Will you ever make the Marketplace available to other platform providers as a service they can purchase and run? (i.e. Amazon)
The data that is available in the Marketplace today can be consumed on any platform such as Windows Azure, Apple’s iPhone and Google’s App Engine platform. For example, developers can write an iPhone app or Google App Engine app that uses data stored in and connects to the Marketplace. However, other platform providers cannot purchase Marketplace as a service to run on their platform at this time.
How do I start onboarding with the Marketplace as a content or application provider?
If you want to publish data on the Marketplace send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to publish an application through the Marketplace send email to email@example.com. Alternatively you can go to https://publishing.marketplace.windowsazure.com to start the process.