OPINION: Today I received an invitation: for the not insignificant sum of $50, I can attend a Microsoft sales pitch in Sydney sponsored by the New South Wales Government.
OK, so that's the cynic in me describing it. Let's look at the official text.
AIIA TechInnovate NSW invites guests to ‘Working around the Cloud with 365’, an event sponsored by the NSW Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Service that promotes Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud services.
At first glance, something doesn't compute. AIIA's TechInnovate purports to represent and nurture local software development, but they are talking up the benefits of exporting workloads to a service hosted by Microsoft in Singapore.
But the folks organising the event explained that the legacy of TechInnovate is a collective of Microsoft .NET partners - small software developers that often get together to share ideas.
With .NET development becoming less relevant these days, the conversation has moved to the cloud. I was told that members of the group actually voted for a discussion of Office 365 at the next TechInnovate event.
I was assured that no money has changed hands between Microsoft, the NSW Government and TechInnovate.
The NSW Government's resources are predominantly "in-kind" - the use of meeting rooms and email blasts out to its database of small businesses. A spokesman for the Government explained that the event is one of 300 across the state being held this month, only a small number of which are run by the department, which aims to educate small business.
"It's not endorsing the product, it is intended as a resource," he said. "Global sourcing of IT services is a big question for small business."
So now I'm stuck on how to feel about this. Office 365 might indeed be a stellar service. It might have the potential to save local users a good deal of money, or earn local software partners some commissions.
And I also hope the NSW Government continues to show strong support to ICT initiatives.
But I am not so sure the NSW Government should be sponsoring efforts to send workloads offshore, when there are a great many local start-ups struggling to establish themselves - often without Government help.
What do you think?