How Twilio went from handshake to Microsoft Azure partner in a month-plus

Microsoft and startup Twilio are offering developers a way to incorporate voice and text messaging into their Windows Azure-hosted apps.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

It's no secret Microsoft has been courting startups like mad to get them on board with Microsoft technologies. Sometimes, those efforts pay off.

In Twilio's case, a handshake at the South by Southwest Conference in March led to a full-on partnership with the Windows Azure cloud team, the first fruits of which were announced on May 2.

Twilio, which calls itself a "cloud communications company," offers RESTful programming interfaces for telephony and text messaging to devs who want to build them into  applications. GroupMe, another startup which was acquired by Microsoft's Skype division last year, was built on top of Twilio's APIs.

As of today, Microsoft and Twilio are offering Azure developers 1,000 free text messages or inbound voice minutes when they activate their new Twilio accounts. The idea is devs will be able to integrate text and phone services into applications that are hosted on Windows Azure by using Twilio's helper libraries available for Java, PHP, C#/.Net and node.js, according to Twilio officials.

Jon Plax, Twilio Director of Product Management, said he was surprised that a handshake with the Azure team back in March led to such a quick onboarding by Microsoft. He said Microsoft officials said they had heard some of their developers were interested in the ability to more easily incorporate text messages into their apps. Microsoft and Twilio worked together on the code as well as the technical documentation for Twilio on Azure, which is available in the Azure developer center, Plax said.

It's worth noting that Twilio's back-end infrastructure is still hosted on Amazon Web Services and that isn't changing as a result of the partnership with Microsoft.

"We have a friendly relationship with a variety of cloud vendors," Plax said.

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