Instead of being quite so blatant, Microsoft has taken a quieter back route to achieving the same ends via two related technologies:
- Baking SharePoint reliance into more and more of its products
- Requiring users to buy pricey client-access licenses (CALs) in order to use Microsoft’s servers
Microsoft has been basing a growing number of its products on SharePoint technologies to provide basic common services like storage, pub/sub, identity/security infrastructure, communications and collaboration functionalities.
With SharePoint’s BDC catalog and search server it is apparent that Microsoft is targeting SharePoint to serve as an integration layer on top of services and LOB applications in the organization.
With “Oslo” its much more…
In 2007, the company began to roll out Microsoft-hosted versions of three of its servers—Exchange, SharePoint Server, and Communications Server—with more planned. The next stage is a set of online services for application developers that offer OS-like functions, such as application-based data storage, and data synchronization among multiple connected devices.
Microsoft’s “Oslo” vision and roadmap to “Simplify SOA, Bridge Software Plus Services, and Take Composite Applications Mainstream” is largely built with SharePoint backing its platform.
As Microsoft expands its reach into cloud computing it’ll have to adjust its SharePoint infrastructure services, which its other server products rely on, to support this kind of environment.
We can already see signs for this transformation in Microsoft’s last year’s announcement on switching SharePoint to use claim based security.
Performing authentication and authorization using claims allows SharePoint to support federated identities across different services and applications – from integration with common identity services like Active Directory, LiveID and OpenID to service\application specific identity models.
This means SharePoint is no longer limited to using the Active Directory on premise but can integrate with remote external authentication providers enabling SharePoint hosted scenarios.
Office, OBAs and LOB Integration
On February 27th last year Microsoft shared some details on LOBi (Line of Business Interoperability), the next version of its SharePoint BDC, postponing it to be released as part of its Office 14 technology stack:
Consequently, LOBi technologies will now be delivered as a set of capabilities within the Office SharePoint Server as part of the next major set of Microsoft Office product releases (the Office 14 wave)."
LOBi, now known as OBAF (OBA Framework), allows developers to integrate LOB applications (SAP, Oracle, etc.) into SharePoint.
It provides developers with all the necessary services required to develop a composite LOB web application on top of existing systems while also supporting offline synchronization to Office clients (S+S strategy).
With the extensive support in application modeling planned as part of “Oslo” roadmap, Microsoft is positioning SharePoint as an integration platform that will run composite applications.
Dynamics and its other server products will probably leverage this platform, as well as its partners and ISVs.
An example for such an application’s is Duet 3.0, the next version of the SAP integration productivity product jointly developed with SAP, which will be developed on top of the new SharePoint technology stack.
By providing developers with rich set of platform services – security services, data indexing, search, synchronization services and offline capabilities – coupled with a development environment (Visual Studio 10) and modeling support, Microsoft is trying to provide all the essential capabilities required to build and run application in a hosted environment – the beginning of an OS for cloud applications?
Some more links on Microsoft’s Cloud Direction: