Virtual Earth Licensing, you know you need it.

johnWeeGo.jpgI recently finished up with an Australian company developing an advanced prototype for fleet tracking / reporting. As part of the project I had to propose a mapping technology. Out of all the options available Virtual Earth is feature rich, scales well, has many great resources for developers and is able to be licensed for commercial use. At least it appears that way.

From Australia you find that our local sales team can’t help. You can send emails to the licensing link on the US site but I never got a reply. Now my request was not just for any old map point license, I wanted a per user license with no limit on transactions. This would allow my customers to use the technology in web based business under a very simple model. You charge the customer the base mapping cost from Microsoft plus the cost for the value added service you put on top of it.

I was in the lucky position of having Frank Arrigo send an email on my, and I’m sure others, behalf. I met Jay at our local Australian TechEd and asked him to look into a solution. I ended up in email conversation with the UK map point sales team. I explained what my client wanted to do over countless emails.

Some 5 months later and after 3 months of emails with the licensing team my client was offered a suitable contract.

Now why is this so hard? I understand that there are royalty costs for the map data providers, and restrictions on what we may use the data for, but surely there must be a standard set of packages available. Why does it have to be a slow, case by case, process for something so generic?

In the process I asked and was informed that there is no reseller scheme in place. Clearly I thought it would make sense for a Australian partner to able to resell licenses to their clients who want to use this technology. I’m in the situation where I can prototype an amazing new way to visualise your business data, but I can’t tell you a price! I can only promise a slow tedious process with Microsoft.

We need the local sales team to be able to make decisions on this product for Australians and we need Microsoft partners to be able to get reseller pricing so we can bid on projects.