The ramblings begin…

Well it’s December 13th, and I have not really started my Holiday shopping yet…how sad is that. But alas, I’m sure you’re not tuning into this blog to hear about the lameness of my shopping habits, but you’re probably looking for a little info on this mysterious thing called OBA. And if you have, then great…because I’ll be using this blog to update you regularly on all things OBA. And while the title of the blog implies perambulation, fear not; I’ll try and be somewhat structured in my delivery of information to you as I find it or create it.

In this blog entry, all I’m going to do is define OBA to keep things simple. As this blog grows, I’ll add more information, sample code, and pointers to great content so you can fulfill your quest to learn, build and deploy OBAs in your organization. So, without further delay: What is OBA?

OBA, which stands for Office Business Application, is not a product SKU; moreover, it is the building of composite applications that leverage the Office development platform – or what some are also referring to as the OBA framework. I simplify my definition of OBA to the potential integration of three major components: i) a LOB system that manages your organization’s business processes (e.g. SAP, PeopleSoft, Siebel, MS Dynamics, etc.). ii) the customization of the Office client (using tools like VSTO), and iii) the development and/or customization of MOSS 2007. The server side, while predominantly MOSS-centric (MOSS being Microsoft Office SharePoint Server) is not necessarily restricted to SharePoint; however, it is a primary piece of the pie.). And I say potential because you can different flavors of OBAs. For example, I could build an OBA that is Office client customizations tied to a LOB system; another type of OBA is server-side customizations (think MOSS BDC web part) tied to a LOB system; and yet another that combines both client and server customizations and one or more LOB systems. More forward looking, we’ll likely see more OBAs that leverage hosted services/mash-ups in the cloud

There are various levels of value from creating OBAs in the organization today. For example, large-scale LOB systems are often cumbersome to learn and use and often don’t return the desired investments. This means training costs, change management costs, etc. Thus, OBAs (through leveraging the Office platform) enable developers to integrate LOB systems into the Office client and MOSS and accomplish two primary things: i) keep the information worker in the context of a familiar and comfortable environment, and ii) drive specific disciplinary and/or business data directly into the purview of the people who need and use it. This integration can mitigate some of the aforementioned costs thus decreasing total cost of ownership and driving productivity into the appropriate organizational disciplines.   

There is a lot of OBA momentum underway, and you can check out to see some of what’s happening out there. However, in future blogs I’ll be posting lots of useful information, so look out for client customization information, integration techniques with MOSS, and more. Of course, I’ll also provide some additional business value information (and pointers to other blogs, articles, etc.) that may also be useful to you.

Until then, I hope you’ll find our chats useful and fun!