Microsoft's on-demand strategy is barely twitching

Microsoft's on-demand strategy is barely twitching

Summary: Steve Ballmer believes a 'short twitch' innovation cycle is once every nine months. For an on-demand vendor, that's not a short twitch cycle, it's a death twitch cycle.


It just goes to show how little Microsoft understands about on-demand services when its CEO Steve Ballmer believes a "short twitch" innovation cycle is once every nine months.

Every nine months!? For an on-demand vendor, that's not a short twitch cycle, it's a death twitch cycle. Hasn't anyone told Ballmer that six weeks between updates is considered a long time in the online world? Some vendors update as frequently as every week — but don't be alarmed, many of them combine this with a 'smart upgrade' option that allows customers to decide when and what new features to implement.

RightNow Technologies, for example, reported in September that it has performed 3000 separate 'smart upgrades' of its on-demand CRM solutions for customers since it began operations in 1997. Canadian CRM vendor introduced a similar facility last month to complement its 4-weekly update cycle.

Microsoft CTO Ray Ozzie, who's in charge of the company's on-demand development strategy, may believe that these rivals' shorter update cycles are "a function of the complexity of the internal code base being released." On the other hand,  it just might be a function of a more modular, service-oriented architecture and a mindset that's focussed on innovating to suit customer timescales rather than the vendor's own internal priorities.

Topic: Enterprise Software

Phil Wainewright

About Phil Wainewright

Since 1998, Phil Wainewright has been a thought leader in cloud computing as a blogger, analyst and consultant.

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  • MSFT v online world

    True Phil but needs to be tempered. The continuous round of Beta isn't comforting to enterprise app builders, though it is true to say that OSS has become entrenched in the enterprise. Whether internal IT politics change is another matter. In large organizations, being a CIO is about control. Beta doesn't fit that model.

    So having made it through the back door, I wonder how far OSS, and it's beta tag will go? Will it mean a more general questioning of server based apps? How is it I can build a reasonable CMS that has maybe 30% of the functionality of a commercial offering (but the 30% I need), and which I can crank out in 2 days at near zero cost? And where, if I want to have developed, I'll likely find 00's of code monkeys willing to have a go - often for little or nothing. How is it, that for the first time in my memory, I'm being briefed on accounting applications being offered as Saas? That is contrary to all management logic.

    Having said that, WTF is Groove - still stuck at 3.1, still requires downloading the .NET framework. Requires a frigging reboot. Which is a royal pain because I live in that beta, SaaS world. If there was a decent rival, I'd tip Groove over the side tomorrow.