How's that for a provocative subject line?
Actually... it's not. But, sometimes something that really is simple gets overcomplicated... particularly when viewed from multiple perspectives. Personally, I see that happening with the concept of Software + Services... and I'd like to put a stop to that. Right now.
We (Microsoft) finally have a good definition for S+S up on MSDN: http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/architecture/aa699384.aspx
"[Software + Services] is a combination of local software and Internet services interacting with one another. Software makes services better and services make software better. And by bringing together the best of both worlds, we maximize choice, flexibility and capabilities for our customers. We describe this evolutionary path in our industry as Software + Services."
That's it. Done.
It's actually not new... people have been doing this for years. Heck... the idea of Client/Server programming started all of this. The difference, today, is the availability of technologies that provide flexibility and real choice for what software to use, and when to use it... and what services to use, and when to use them.
At one point in time, you didn't really have much choice for the user experience... it was a desktop computer (usually Windows), with a Windows interface (even prior to that, 3270 terminals). When the Internet came along, we all got forced into the web browser/HTML experience... without many options for compelling UIs. Now we have plenty of options for client delivery - from cross platform desktop solutions, to mobile solutions, RIAs, to telephony and voice... you name it.
Similarly, the use of services in the past didn't provide much choice... first, the standards hadn't been in place to allow for broad-based service, then the idea of going outside the firewall was restricted, you have identity problems, the issues of hosting an environment with appropriate SLAs, etc. Net net: The technology just wasn't ready - and businesses weren't ready to bet on services.
We're at a juncture now where we have tremendous flexibility in both software and services, with technologies that are robust the proven enough to be valid platforms for business. The axes have intersected... the time is finally right.
So while we can listen to the architects talk about SOA, SAAS, SDPs, and Web 2.0, and the Developers pine about Live, Silverlight, Ajax, Mashups, and PopFly, and the infrastructure guys talk about outsourcing and infrastructure optimization, and the business guys talk about business process optimization, service provider licensing, and monetization... and know that there's a lot to it all - and that all of those things are encompassed in an S+S strategy... we shouldn't lose sight of the simplicity of Software + Services.
Software + Services is the flexibility to use what software you want, when and where you want to, and use what services you want, when and where you want to. It is a human discussion about how you and your organization choose to use software and services, and how you intend to provide software and services to others.
Oh... and incidentally, Microsoft is, by far, the best organization to provide an end-to-end platform for Software + Services. Our software strategy is well known... and with recent additions such as Silverlight, it only gets better. Our services strategy is new... and tremendous... a game changer (all of the Live Services, all of the Online Services, Virtual Earth, SQL Server Data Services, BizTalk Internet Service Bus, and more square footage of datacenter than any human can comprehend... and it's just the beginning). Of course, I'm biased... but even we biased people are right occasionally ;)
Any questions? Come see me at the Health & Life Science Developer & Solution Conference on April 22-24 in Atlantic City, NJ. For info, visit http://www.hlsdevcon.com
Look forward to seeing you there!