Advance the Business through IT Solutions: The Microsoft Application Platform

REDMOND, Wash., June 12, 2006 — The Microsoft Application Platform is a portfolio of technology capabilities, core products and best practice guidance, focused on helping IT and development departments to partner with the business to maximize opportunity — the ability to drive the right efficiencies, customer connections and value added services for business growth.

Behind this commitment is helping IT better respond to business demand and influence a proactive shift where IT becomes a valued “contributor” driving business growth.

As one of Microsoft’s customers, Bob Erickson, Executive Vice President for Software Development of Mediterranean Shipping Company, recently expressed:

“The biggest challenge we face is trying to stay ahead of all the business requirements that are changing in the global shipping area. We constantly get new requests that have to be implemented very rapidly. We try to respond very quickly, giving our customers and our people the tools that they need to be more efficient and more effective. We work together globally to come up with solutions. There’s an attitude that we can make things happen and we can accomplish our work quickly.”

But let’s just say outright that this is a hard problem to solve and it is as much to do with empowering people as it is to do with technology choice. In fact we know in speaking to customers that:

Change is constant – every new business decision results in a flood of new projects and requirements on the IT organization and supporting systems. This often leads to an unmanageable backlog of applications and an inability to know what’s most important to the business.

Teams, roles and information across the organization are often siloed, diminishing project success rates in light of constraints around time, cost, and quality. Further support for new and efficient business models can fall short with disparate applications and heterogeneous, distributed and or outsourced team environments increasing overall complexity and risk instead of opportunity.

Yet the business still expects the IT organization to help them to be more market-responsive and to increase their capacity to deliver results when money and resources finite. This age-old trend is importantly set to continue; with industry research forecasting that IT budgets will not grow at the rate of business growth.

In summary, to be perceived as a true partner: IT must deliver more value than the business can buy in the marketplace, and this is where the strategy and direction of the Microsoft Application Platform plays an important role.

Microsoft strongly believes that the IT organization itself is best positioned to help the business prioritize and shift to a valued contributor, helping fuel business growth.

This starts with meeting customer expectations, so that security and scalability — as well as performance and availability in the technology and products Microsoft offers — is a given. In mixed heterogeneous environments, customers can expect Microsoft to support technology choice through interoperability via standards, adapters and partners in combination with industry leading TCO and price-for-performance for greater value.

Second, it’s about the alignment between business and IT, which is as much about helping the business to prioritize for the best return on investment as it is about advancing the speed of innovation.

Technology capability investments spanning data management, business intelligence (BI), business process management (BPM) and service orientation, as well as software development and user experience for the Microsoft application platform, offer a catalyst for business growth for customers who need to build, deploy and manage connected and adaptive applications in recognition of customer needs — which can be summarized as follows:

Data is growing faster than users can interpret and harness: Microsoft is going beyond traditional data management with a data platform that can support new and expanding data types while supporting the secure capture and management of anonymous data outside data center. Further, data management for Microsoft means supporting the new breed of dynamic apps: data-driven, highly mobile and occasionally connected.

Visibility is core to business decision making, opportunity identification and risk mitigation: By investing in BI, Microsoft is helping organizations to overcome information silos and create a more connected organization. Microsoft is focused on providing business insights to all employees functional areas (such as the software development organization) leading to better, faster, more relevant decisions, application prioritization and action.

Process-based and service oriented approaches are key to connected and adaptive applications: Microsoft recognizes the inherent complexities of connecting systems in heterogeneous environments and aligning core business activities and development teams. A flexible service oriented approach helps customers manage change, streamline and automate business processes and interoperate with existing IT investments.

Collaborative development environments fuel business-driven software: Delivering software initiatives that drive business value on time and at desired quality requires aligning the right roles and teams across business and IT. Ensuring individual and team productivity requires the right level of visibility, collaboration and control within the software development process. Real-time data capture (BI on software initiatives) and customizable lightweight process and reporting are vital for compliance, project estimation, impact analysis and repeatable success.

User experience is at the core of customer and partner satisfaction, employee productivity and business growth: From Microsoft Windows Vista and the Microsoft Office system through to creative designer and development technologies and products such as Microsoft Expression and Visual Studio, Microsoft’s strategy is to offer experience-rich and productive user interactions. Microsoft is focused on user experience as a core set of application requirements for Line of Business on the Web and the client. Bridging the gap between creative designer developers is start of driving user experience at the forefront of customer applications

Core Momentum Showcased at Microsoft TechEd 2006

As part of Microsoft’s commitments and investments in data management, industry partners including HP, IBM, Fujitsu, EMC, Network Appliance, 3PAR, Hitachi and NEC are working with Microsoft to provide customer systems that have been carefully reviewed to meet the Microsoft SQL Server Storage Solution requirements. As many database applications, and specifically line of business systems, must be built to ensure zero or minimum down time, SQL Server Always On Technologies will provide customers with a full range of options for achieving and maintaining appropriate levels of application availability.

Now available is a Community Technology Preview (CTP) of SQL Server Everywhere, a new offering for storage on clients of all types that will provide a lightweight, compact, but rich subset of the capabilities found in other SQL Server editions. Beyond having rich local data management capabilities, SQL Server Everywhere Edition will also include support for seamlessly synchronizing with other SQL Server editions and provides features that promote building rich client applications that operate effectively in today’s increasingly “occasionally connected” environment.

Within the core development capability, we recently announced the Visual Studio Team Edition for Database Professionals. The Community Technology Preview (CTP) of the Visual Studio Team Edition for Database Professionals expands Visual Studio 2005 Team System to include tools that enable software development organizations to collaborate more effectively when creating reliable, data-driven applications.

Microsoft BizTalk Server 2006 R2 builds on BizTalk Server 2006’s business process management capabilities by extending a company’s core process management technologies outside of the corporate boundaries, and into supply-chain and trading partner scenarios. BizTalk Server 2006 R2 will include new capabilities that address core challenges found in key vertical industries such as manufacturing and retail. These capabilities include native support for Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and AS2 as well as RFID.

Further, Office Business Application (OBA) Services for SharePoint and BizTalk Server enable customers to manage the full spectrum of their business processes, from collaborative through highly structured system-to-system processes, and access important line of business data from within Microsoft Office-based applications

Lastly, developers and their organizations looking to take advantage of the user experience and familiarity of the Microsoft Office applications now also can start by familiarizing themselves with the Visual Studio Tools for Office ‘Cypress’ plug-in for the 2007 Microsoft Office system, with the first CTP now available.

Looking to the Future

As mentioned previously, the fact of the matter is that to survive, IT organizations increasingly must deliver more value than the business can buy in the marketplace.

Today’s meta trends are telling for the requirements of applications in the future and how organizations may look to “Advance the Business through IT Solutions.”

The breadth and level of interaction that the average organization is engaged with across its ecosystem of partners, suppliers, customers and even employees is only set to increase — placing further emphasis on connectivity and user experience.

In the future, new levels of security, scalability, performance and cost-efficiencies become even more fundamental to supporting applications on demand and SaaS models driven by the prevalence of service oriented architectures (SOA).

Further “infoglut” (data explosion), increased industry regulation and corporate compliance place a significant emphasis on business/software development process management and automation for appropriate levels of visibility, insight and action.

The catalyst for business growth, therefore, is the right application infrastructure and capabilities to manage risk, efficiencies and change while driving better levels of customer experience.

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