Software Plus Services slowly emerges out of the ether.
We've all heard of software. And we've heard of services, and Web services
and Software as a Service. And you've probably been bombarded with hype about
service orientation and service enablement.
But Microsoft, having not invented any of these terms, has its own phraseology
-- Software Plus Services. Knowing we'd be forced to use this phrase again and
again, our copy desk (let's call her Wendy) had to come up with a standard way
of writing this, and grappled mightily with whether to use the + sign or spell
out the word.
This digression aside, Software+Services (should we plunge you straight into
acronym hell by calling it S+S?) is being pushed, promoted and promulgated by
Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie.
Redmond (i.e. Ray) is finally putting meat on the services bones by laying
out its grand scheme. Here's the quick and dirty on the new multilayer architecture:
It all starts with Global Foundation Services. Forget about the word services
and think about the hardware that supports services. Microsoft's already hard
at work building and buying massive data centers, but it has a long way to go
to match Google's acres of Linux server farms.
top of this lies Cloud Infrastructure Services. This includes a lot of the features
that Microsoft currently offers enterprises, such as deployment and load balancing.
Resting on top of this cloud is Live Platform Services. Like the cloud, these
are application services for which Microsoft currently has enterprise counterparts,
such as identity management.
At the highest layer are the things that Microsoft perhaps knows best -- the
apps themselves. These apps include things Microsoft has done for years -- Web
surfing, collaboration, spreadsheets and word processing -- and hopefully things
Redmond gurus haven't even thought of yet. It's this top layer that one can
either buy on a subscription basis or use for free -- as long as you don't mind
a few ads along the way.
Software written to the four-layer Microsoft model can run as a pure service
from either Microsoft or another provider, or as client software plus Web services
(here Microsoft gets to charge you twice).
Now let's ask the tough questions. While it might be based on things Microsoft
has done in the past, this is an entirely new approach. Being so different and
so complex, there's a real possibility it will fail. (Does anyone remember Cairo?)
Redmond could also have trouble convincing developers to embrace this new architecture.
And Microsoft has no monopoly in the cloud. As we move to pure services, Microsoft
has less and less to leverage.
So far, Microsoft's services push is mixed. I use Windows Live Hotmail, and
besides having a name clunkier than a Yugo drivetrain, it's slow, non-intuitive
and sometimes unpredictable.
Others aren't as bad. In fact, we found that many Microsoft services, like
its toolbar and some mapping, equal or exceed those of Google.
Do you care about services? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.