Partner Advocate

SaaS in the MIX

At the MIX07 conference, Microsoft's Ozzie suggested that "choices for software and service deployment" would arise with the implementation of Microsoft's Software Plus Services plans.

Hidden behind the glare of Silverlight at Microsoft's recent MIX07 conference in Las Vegas were some critical details about Microsoft's Software as a Service/Software Plus Services (SaaS/SPS) business plans.

Silverlight -- the star of the MIX07 show -- is Microsoft's beta version of a cross-browser, cross-platform free plug-in that will serve as a target to allow developers to build more interactivity, audio, video and animation into Web sites and Web applications.

Why does this matter to partners who aren't directly involved with Madison Avenue or trendy dev shops in Silicon Valley? Because of some of the business concepts for Software Plus Services (Microsoft's term for SaaS) that Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie discussed in his Silverlight-focused MIX keynote.

While Microsoft should talk about its SPS strategy with partners at the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Denver next month, I'm not holding my breath. The WPC keynote lineup doesn't include any heavy hitters from the SPS side (i.e., Ozzie).

So if Ozzie's MIX keynote is all we get, here's what we know:

First, he offered a prediction that is also a wish for Microsoft, given that the company's revenues come almost exclusively from sales of installed software. When the SaaS/SPS platform shift settles out, he said, "We'll end up with a mixture of some of this and some of that ... A mix that will give businesses a vast array of choices for software and service deployment."

Second, Ozzie and the Microsoft Live team laid out very clear, very generous terms for commercial use of the Windows Live Platform services, including streaming video, Virtual Earth maps for mashups, search and more. Basically, a Web site or application has to be hugely successful to incur any fees at all. In most cases, you'd need a million unique users per month.

That's relevant for partners who want to start integrating the new capabilities and using the new APIs in their solutions. But it's also looking relevant further in the future. Quoting Ozzie again: "With some reasonable limitations, of course, this highly distributed, low latency, high-scale delivery of Silverlight apps and media is on us. I think you'll find the service to be useful, and I think you should consider it as a sign of things to come in terms of our software and services platform."

This seems like a reason to breathe a little easier about those Microsoft data centers going up all over the world. What do you think? Do I have my head in the cloud? Let me know your thoughts at sbekker@rcpmag.com.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.