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Microsoft Launches SaaS-Oriented Web Site

The latest MSDN Solution community site from Microsoft is for architects and designers interested in software-as-a-service (SaaS) development issues.

The community site is a little light on content at the moment but will expand with more articles on best practices and case studies, podcasts and eventually sample code and patterns, according to Microsoft .

The company is making a move to SaaS with Windows Live, and new chief software architect Ray Ozzie has made this his mantra at several public appearances.

Much of the early content will be based on Microsoft's own experiences, said Gianpaolo Carraro, leader of the solutions architecture group in the Architecture Strategy Team at Microsoft.

"It's no secret that SaaS is getting a lot of interest in the industry and one of the key aspects of understanding SaaS is having an application architecture that is in tune with a service delivery model. So it was important to provide guidance and best practices for how to architect SaaS," he said.

Carraro said Microsoft felt it's important to start the guidance effort because there was a customer interest to get the core thinking out.

Microsoft plans to add sample apps for customers to study, case studies showing how companies can realize the benefits of SaaS and articles provided by customers. The plan is not to be Microsoft-centric but also offer the view from the larger community, said Carraro.

There will also be training materials available in due time. Microsoft will run webcasts on specific architecture issues and hosted labs, using MSDN virtual machines to have hands-on labs for users to learn SaaS development practices, said Carraro.

The one thing not set is whether this will be the repository for developers looking to build services that take advantage of all of Microsoft's upcoming Live efforts. Carraro said that is to be determined.

For now, the site is just a collection of articles with little to offer, and Greg DeMichillie, senior analyst with Directions on Microsoft, isn't impressed yet.

"Microsoft launches these sites regularly and the real question is how much live info is going to be there," he said.

The thing to look for isn't whether Microsoft launches a Website, but whether Ray Ozzie is successful at guiding the company into developing software combinations of desktop software and services that work together, DeMichillie added.

"The problem isn't architectural. The problem is coming up with the actual instances of services people are willing to pay to use. Microsoft needs to come up with its own examples," he said.