"This transformation from software to software-plus-services is a very, very big deal for our company," - Ray Ozzie
Today I started a new gig at Microsoft that has a lot to do with the image above. Hugh kindly drew this a few months back and I was quick to snag it as I knew it would become my new card. Basically I'm working in a part of the organisation known as Microsoft International and helping to shape how we talk about Software + Services internally and externally. It's a big new adventure and I'm really looking forward to it. It means I'm no longer managing the PTS team which I'll miss as they're just a great bunch of guys doing outstanding work, but the opportunity to be involved this deeply with S+S was something I couldn't pass up. I'll have involvement in a few other projects I can't talk about but S+S will be my main schtick.
Given that, it's probably a good time to clear up some confusion on what Software + Services is (and isn't), so here goes...
- Software + Services is not Microsoft's answers to SaaS
Or Web 2.0 or SOA. In fact, S+S encompasses all of those things. The best explanation of this comes from Sanjay Parthasarathy at our Worldwide Partner Conference this year when he discussed the notion of S+S. He thinks about Web 2.0 as the experience, SaaS as the delivery and SOA as the composition and federation. So if we think about something like Exchange it uses SaaS as a delivery model (for OWA) and is a Web 2.0 experience in it's use of data presented with AJAX.
- Software + Services is not a Microsoft only thing
It's an industry thing and when you step back and look this becomes increasingly obvious. Lets take a few examples to explain this point.
- Salesforce.com is probably the most oft quoted example of SaaS and initially they were a pure play SaaS vendor with a no touch (assuming a browser) client impact and service which is hosted in the "cloud". Salesforce now offer a client for their service. There are scenarios which demand it, not least offline.
- Google Gears is a good example of the darling of Web 2.0 providing Software + Services. I can now take Google Reader offline and read it when I don't have connectivity - on a plane for example.
- XBOX Live is a good Microsoft example of the combination of local software connected to a cloud service to provide mutliplayer gaming and a marketplace.
- Exchange is possibly the best Microsoft example where you can have an email server that his "on premise" (in your office), hosted (by a partner) or even provided by Microsoft. You can then access that service from a rich client on a PC (Outlook), a pure web client (Outlook Web Access) from a mobile device using a rich client (ActiveSync) and now even a voice interface with no client (Outlook Voice Access).
- Apple is also a great proponent of S+S, though you'd never hear them call it that. iTunes + iPod = Software + Services. Perhaps even more so with the iPhone which makes much of the fact it connects to YouTube and the iTunes music store from a rich client on a device.
- eBay TurboLister and eBay Desktop are two rich clients that connect to one of the worlds most popular Internet services.
- Software + Services is a pretty big thing for Microsoft
Ray Ozzie isn't known for hyperbole so the statement at the top of this post should be taken at face value. The breadth of Software + Services is vast. It encompasses everything from Zune (note iPod above), XBOX Live, Live services (such as Virtual Earth), Biztalk Services, Microsoft Online and more.
Ray's talk at the Financial Analyst Meeting earlier this year gives you an indication of the breadth, and the depth of investment. Basically it touches almost all of Microsoft and I'm struggling to think of one area it doesn't affect. However, much as I'd like to think I'm going to work on all of these products and services that simply isn't true or indeed feasible. What I will be doing is helping make this understandable both inside and outside of Microsoft. That's what I think I'm okay at - synthesizing lots of inputs on technology and turning them in to something an audience can understand.That's where the Geek In Disguise thing came from after all (thanks Sarah) and to quote Charles Mingus:
Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity.
I'm not saying I'm creative (more simple) but the quote does capture why I try to do.
Anyhoo, that's probably enough for now but this is what you'll hear a little more about from me over the coming months. Rest assured though, this blog will continue to be home to an eclectic mix of technology, design, gadgets, Microsoft, industry and other random stuff I find. I hope you keep coming back and if you have question on S+S, fire away!
Your loyal blogging servant, Steve...
[update #1 with new image from Hugh and link to high res version]
[update #2 good chinwag with the Hughmeister today and decided to print out the high res as a poster and plot companies/products]