Microsoft is stepping up its campaign to get more independent software vendors to integrate Office front-ends with their own business applications.
There already exist a number of these Office-front-ended applications -- which Microsoft has christened Office Business Applications, or OBAs. Some are commercial applications, like the jointly developed Microsoft-SAP Duet. Others are custom-built proprietary applications, via which a company mashes up Office with its own line-of-business application, for in-house use.
Microsoft officials are claiming there are already "hundreds" of ISVs building and deploying OBAs, in spite of the fact that Microsoft has done relatively little to date, at least formally, to build the OBA community. Companies have built Office and SharePoint mashups with Epicor, Siebel, PeopleSoft and Pivotal, Microsoft officials said.
At the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference on July 10, Microsoft announced its new OBA OnRamp program, designed to get more software vendors and systems integrators build more OBAs. Microsoft will provide participants in the program with sales, marketing, consulting and technical help. They will provide them with OBA Quickstart kits -- copies of which Microsoft is distributing to all 12,000 attendees of this week's partner show to help jumpstart their applications. Microsoft also plans to allow OBA OnRamp partners to advertise their solutions on Microsoft's new OBACentral Web site.
A related aside: OBAs encompass more than just Office plus some back-end application. Some OBAs also are a mash-up of SharePoint with another back-end application.
Microsoft recently launched a new SharePoint resources mash-up site designed to encourage more partners to make use of SharePoint's enterprise search and other capabilities. Microsoft is encouraging developers to think about doing more SharePoint-inclusive composite applications, like new business dashboards and mash-ups "where a new business capability is created by assembling multiple existing software assets: web services, APIs, web feeds (e.g. RSS or Atom), gadgets, and screen scraping (and) where content is sourced from APIs, Web feeds (e.g. RSS or Atom), gadgets, web services and screen scraping."
Anyone -- other than Mike Cox (who I am sure has built many an OBA already) -- tried mashing up Office with a back-end app? Any interest in doing so?