Microsoft moves into SOA as a Service

Microsoft recently made two SOA related announcements:

The next version of Biztalk will have a SOA veneer (commented on by Joe McKendrik ) and more interestingly Microsoft will lauch a  Software as a Service(SaaS) SOA offering.

I blogged previously about how SaaS itself increases the requirement for integration as multiple SaaS based applications must be integrated together.  This has the potential to derail SaaS initiatives – particularly in smaller organisations without sufficient IT skills and budget to deliver on an integration strategy (SOA based or otherwise).

Microsoft is taking a different angle on the SOA and SaaS story by focusing on cross-department integration and attempting to solve particularly painful aspects of the problem with SaaS offerings that will be called collectively Biztalk Services.  In essence, each service hits a specific integration issue which would otherwise require a potentially large investment in infrastructure.  The first two are:

  • Identity: allowing management of users across departments and organisations and
  • Connectivity: providing enterprise style message (pub-sub for instance) across the internet with appropriate security – thus making ‘safe’ exposure of a SOA service across multiple organisations.

Their picks of identity and connectivity for the first two services is smart as both are inevitably part of any cross-departmental SOA project.  The strategy is also smart as it neatly leverages where Microsoft is already strong (at the department level and in SMB) and where the SOA skills shortage is hitting hardest.

As such I don’t think it is necessary to look at this announcement through Google-tinted glasses and disagree with Ron Schmelzer of Zapthink who is quoted as saying:

“I think Microsoft is really rethinking a lot of their server infrastructure because Google is a competitive threat,”

Microsoft is not doubt thinking hard about Google but it is only fair to point out that this is not a market where Google is relevant as yet and it is not a new departure for Microsoft or even Biztalk:  Biztalk was originally about internet-based integration as this article from 2000 shows.

Ronan