If you want to understand how Microsoft is differentiating its Software+Services (S+S) strategy differs from Software As a Service (SaaS), look no further Microsoft's recently announced BizTalk Services.
- BizTalk Identity Services provide authentication, access control and federated identity based on the WS-Trust specification and Windows CardSpace
- BizTalk Relay Services facilitate the traversal and bridging of physical networks, enabling high-fidelity interconnection between cooperating systems for cross-organizational messaging behind firewalls
- BizTalk ServiceBus Services, or ESB services, are for creating loosely coupled applications
- BizTalk Workflow Services provide a hosted instance of Windows Workflow Foundation
On April 24, Microsoft moved BizTalk services out of its live.labs.com incubation lab and into the labs.biztalk.net testing world. The first release of BizTalk Services isn't considered a full-fledged beta; it's a Community Technology Preview (CTP) pre-beta release.
In Microsoft's S+S taxonomy, there are three tiers of services. Microsoft Connected Systems Division Director of Product Management Steve Martin explains these three tiers succinctly in this blog posting:
- Building Block – The raw building block capabilities to enable developers to build interesting services (or composite apps)
- Attached – Services that feed into the premise software e.g. Exchange Hosted Services (security, anti-spam, archiving), Windows Live Update
- Finished – Services built for delivery over the internet. e.g. Dynamics CRM Live, Salesforce.com
Martin puts these hosted, "in-the-cloud" BizTalk Services into the "building block" category. They are meant to be a complement to Microsoft's on-premise BizTalk integration server. He explains:
"We see BizTalk Services as a complement to 'traditional' BizTalk Server uses on premise. As you need to coordinate SOA on a broader scale beyond the organization, we see the introduction of hosted services as one way to help support federation of business process, messaging, and identity across boundaries. Over time, we want to ensure that BizTalk Server customers will be able to easily use the cloud services in conjunction with their premise technology."
Expect to see Microsoft announce more "building block" services in the not-too-distant future. Maybe even the long-awaited Microsoft storage in the cloud services will finally make their debut....