Office productivity, Web 2.0, SOA seen as “new vistas” in apps vendor partnerships

Microsoft Corp. passed a significant milestone in releasing Vista, the latest version of the Windows client platform; and put a stake in the sand regarding the next refresh of the Windows Server platform, which will occur in 2008. But for manufacturers—like most enterprises—platform changes take a back seat until application providers update their products.

07/01/2007


Microsoft Corp. passed a significant milestone in releasing Vista, the latest version of the Windows client platform; and put a stake in the sand regarding the next refresh of the Windows Server platform, which will occur in 2008. But for manufacturers—like most enterprises—platform changes take a back seat until application providers update their products.

On the manufacturing front, Microsoft's moves in Office Business Applications; SOA (service-oriented architecture); and Web 2.0 likely will impact apps providers' plans before Vista clients and Windows Server 2008 emerge.

Office Business Applications—Microsoft's strategy for promoting Office as the front end of enterprise applications—resulted in the first set of Duet applications, which customize Office 2003 for specific SAP ERP processes. The first Duet offerings use Word, Excel, or Outlook for running several SAP HR, procurement, and CRM processes.

Similarly, Microsoft is tapping Office as the front end for its own line of Dynamics business applications. Much of Microsoft's Dynamics CRM functionality is presented through Outlook, while ERP data from AX (the former Axapta) or NAV (the former Navision) can populate Excel spreadsheets of BizTalk reports. In turn, Microsoft is adding new tooling to Visual Studio so customers can develop their own homegrown applications using Office as the front end.

In a related initiative, Microsoft is extending Dynamics with an OEM program that embeds third-party vertical-industry or niche functionality. For instance, Dynamics AX for Process Industries repackages and integrates production tracking from partner Fullscope.

Earlier this year, Microsoft also unveiled its Business Process Alliance to build an ecosystem of partners around BizTalk Server integration platform. Using BizTalk as the integration hub, and Web services standards such as BPEL (Business Process Execution Language) as the standard for orchestrating services, Microsoft has recruited IDS Scheer for process modeling; Metastorm for business process management; Fair Isaac for business rules management; and AmberPoint for run-time governance of SOA environments.

“With SharePoint, BizTalk, Windows Communication Foundation [WCF], and now workflow, you have 90 percent of what people expect in business process management and an ESB [Enterprise Service Bus],” claims Kent Brooks, enterprise integration practice manager for IT consulting firm twentysix New York .

The popularity of Web 2.0 rich clients also led Microsoft to offer a set of strategies for making the Web as fully functional and interactive as traditional desktop fat clients. In particular is the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), the framework that will deliver the full Aero 3D-style look and feel of Vista on Web and Windows clients. Additionally, Microsoft is replicating some of Vista's look and feel on non-Windows platforms with the new Silverlight framework. Seeking to capitalize on the popularity of Ajax-style rich Internet clients, Microsoft also is promoting ASP.NET Extensions for Ajax.

That in turn is pushing Microsoft's newest rival Adobe , whose Dreamweaver dominates Web design, and whose Flex framework does battle with Microsoft for the hearts and minds of Web 2.0 developers.





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