Enterprise Software

Microsoft combines storage and SOA units - what's that all about?

According to a report in Software Development Times, Microsoft has combined its data storage and Web services business units into one group called the Business Platform Division. Joe McKendrick notes that storage and SOA seem like an odd combination; he thinks there's another factor at work here.

This is a guest post from Joe McKendrick of TechRepublic's sister site ZDNet. You can follow Joe on his ZDNet blog Service Oriented, or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Storage and SOA? That seems like an odd marriage, like combining "American Idol" with "Masterpiece Theater" into one show. Or "24″ and "Monk." Or "Monk" and "House." Or SOA and Chuck Norris. I could go on...

According to this report by Software Development Times' David Worthington, Microsoft has combined its data storage and Web services business units into a single group, called the Business Platform Division.

The new division is comprised of Microsoft's Connected Systems Division and Data and Storage Platforms Division. Products under this wing include Windows Application Server, BizTalk Server, .NET Framework technologies including Windows Communication Foundation and Windows Workflow Foundation, .NET cloud services, and the Oslo modeling platform.

Of course, the company says the combined group will create "greater synergies." For anyone worried about Microsoft's commitment to Web services and SOA, the vendor does offer these reassuring words: "We will continue to deliver technologies that enable customers to extend the significant benefits they are achieving with ‘real-world' SOA," according to said Darrell Cavens, director of product management in the Enterprise Application Platform team at Microsoft.

Should we worry? Storage and SOA seem like an odd combination.  Worthington's article suggests that the realignment is due to economic conditions.

But I think another factor is at work here. That is, SOA is moving closer to both enterprise data management and cloud computing. Storage - the ability to store, archive, and manage large volumes of data - is a pain point for many enterprises these days, to which the cloud model offers a compelling source of relief. Such capabilities are being offered as services, both from external providers and potentially internally, from other parts of the enterprise. The whole concept of SANs (storage area networks) advances the concept that any and all devices are pooled as a gigantic disk. In addition, data management is increasingly being seen in a service-oriented context, as "data services" are delivered to end-user business units.

So, I don't think Microsoft is retrenching or cutting back SOA to save money - rather, I think the vendor sees more opportunity in the cloud, with the growing service-orientation of data management - with SOA as the enabler.

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