Microsoft Bizspark worth it for Open Source startups?

At WonderPoint, we’re building some awesome logistics apps using open source technologies (Angular JS, PHP, Redis, Resque and Percona) which will be delivered as SaaS. So does Microsoft Bizspark program make sense for startups such as ours?

Short Answer: Yes!

Long Answer: It is true that Microsoft Bizspark program comes loaded with free Microsoft software that are worth thousands of dollars in open market. But these are of no use if you are building your product using open source stack. The licenses issued under Bizspark are not for internal use. For example, you can install MS Office for testing but cannot use it to create a word document/or draft an email for your day to day business activity. If you need Internal use licenses then you should checkout Microsoft Action Pack Subscription.

Why should a startup sign up for Bizspark if they don’t intend to develop on the Windows platform? Simple answer: For Windows Azure, Microsoft’s PaaS/IaaS platform.

We did end up signing for Bizspark program because it was free. However we had no use for the software that came with the program until we stumbled upon Bizspark’s Azure subscription offer. Bizspark allows a startup to invite upto four developers to create sub-accounts under the startup’s main account. Each sub-account is given $150/month credits that can be used on the Windows Azure platform. If a startup remains part of Bizspark for the entire 3 years, that’s $21,600 USD worth of free credits.

Agreed that $150/month in four different accounts does not allow one to run multiple large VM instances on the platform, but these credits are good enough to run couple of small or one medium VM instance per account with ample credits left for bandwidth, geo redundancy, storage and backup. The same instances on AWS along with bandwidth, storage and backup would cost us approximately $150/month per account ($600/month). Amazon has a Free Tier program that is valid for 1 year but it doesn’t even come close to Bizspark’s Azure subscription offer.

But isn’t Azure for Windows VMs? That was true until a year back when Microsoft decided to include support for Linux distros (CentOS, Ubuntu, Debian etc). We have moved all our development servers/tools on Azure platform including Project tracker (Redmine), GitLab, CI server and an integration server to test our builds. Running these servers on AWS or other cloud/dedicated hosting providers would have cost us few hundred dollars every month.

Bizspark program also comes with other features such as Marketplace, Support (Investors, Talent Hiring), Offers from Bizspark partners etc. We haven’t used these features so can’t comment how good/bad they are. However some of the offers from partners are worth exploring.

If your startup qualifies for the bizspark program, I highly recommend that you apply.


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