Microsoft Posts SaaS Samples


You wanna build Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) on Microsoft infrastructure?

Microsoft today
posted architectural guidelines
on how to do so.

The goal is to show partners that Microsoft technology—namely the .Net Framework 3.0, SQL Server 2005 etc.-- is a credible foundation for building multi-tenancy applications. Those would be apps that could run securely and privately on shared server infrastructure.
Included is sample code, documentation, a video walkthrough of the app itself.

The source code is available on Codeplex.

Microsoft is trying hard to make up for lost time in SaaS where Salesforce.com, NetSuite, Webex and other players have taken an early lead.

Last month it offered early code of its hostable CRM to partners for testing.

In a follow up interview last month Microsoft CRM GM Brad Wilson said CRM Live is on track to ship (if that's the right word in a SaaS context) in mid 2007.
He foresees two customer segments for hosted CRM. ": I think we'll find very small businesses down to SOHO wanting to use hosted, zero infrastructure CRM. I also think some enterprises will want to use hundreds, maybe thousands of seats. It all depends on their IT capability. Some might feel their IT guys are too busy, and pay for things out of their operating budget," he noted.

As for partners, Wilson says he can't think of a reason why partners wouldn't want to host a range of apps on shared infrastructure. Those partners will no longer need to dedicate hardware to each customer.

For some industries—in the government or healthcare, there may be institutional or regulatory impediments to SaaS, and for those on-premise solutions will remain a priority he said.

"Look at foundations with sensitive donor lists or financial services companies or government agencies. They don't' want multi-tenancy. They want a locked box in a hosting center," Wilson said.

Microsoft's game plan with its "Titan" CRM release is to build several CRM options top the same code base. "Titan will come to market in three forms, an on-premise version, one as bits to hosting partners, and third a set of bits going into Windows Live for Microsoft-hosted CRM," he said.

For more on the evolution of Titan see this story.

The company's Windows Live and Office Live platforms are another part of its SaaS push.

Office Live, basically hosted SharePoint, targets very small companies and is positioned as a platform for third party—and Microsoft--applications for those constituencies. Windows Live, some call it son of MSN, is positioned as a platform for consumer applications and tasks.