Microsoft’s core strength

While I’ve not been a big proponent of Microsoft in the enterprise software space (I don’t believe they really understand it), I’ve always been impressed with their work in the server and development areas (the core areas that the company was built around). It’s in that latter area that I’ve had seen where Microsoft is doing good work – it’s the platform on which SYSPRO built its new Workflow Services product.

With the new version of SYSPRO 6.1 comes a new product, SYSPRO Workflow Services (SWS). Microsoft published a case study this month about it – Global Software Company Cuts Development Time for Workflow Solution by 80 Percent.

Because of our development track record, Microsoft invited SYSPRO into their Technology Adoption Program, which gave our dev team the opportunity to use the beta versions of Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4 for the development of SWS. .NET 4 included new features in Windows Communication Foundation and the new Windows Workflow Foundation (WF). Without WF, we could not have produced SWS.

What Microsoft did in VS 2010 was to deliver templates which effectively provided a rapid development environment. Project templates contain the project settings, references, and files that  are need to begin a certain type of project. Some of the default templates used were:

  • Activity Designer Library
  • Activity Library
  • WCF Workflow Service Application
  • Workflow Console Application
  • WCF/WCF Service Library
  • WCF/WCF Workflow Service Application

The project duration for SWS was about 3,500 man hours, and an in-house development methodology was used, which has elements of agile and scrum. Our Software Arcitect estimated that without the .Net 4 and VS2010 features, the development time for SWS would probably have been tripled or quadrupled.

The product that Microsoft provided SYSPRO to do the development was first class, and it makes me wonder why Microsoft doesn’t focus more on this core strength, an area in which they have long and deep experience. Instead, they get distracted by going into ERP (Dynamics), mobile phones (Windows Phone 7) and music consoles (Zune).

I have commented on this before – Is Microsoft like ‘old’ IBM?, The Microsoft-IBM analogy again. Do you think Microsoft is trying to be all things to all people?

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