The end of 2013 coincided with the new product launch of SOA Software’s Intermediary for Microsoft. Not a bad way to end the year. SOA Software has always been committed to first class SOA and API management support for the Microsoft community, and Intermediary for Microsoft marks an exciting next milestone in our Microsoft product roadmap. In fact, the product launch is one of our most significant Microsoft developments in recent memory.
The significance – and excitement – stems from the product’s ability to bring SOA and API intermediation to a Microsoft environment, something Microsoft customers have never really had before. Intermediation is just a fancy word for adding a network management point in between your network consumers (such as ASP.NET and mobile devices) and your network providers (such as BizTalk and WCF). But make no mistake about how important this seemingly simple architectural addition can be for you.
As an architect, your design possibilities increase dramatically when designing connected systems that include intermediation capabilities. Intermediation arms you with a host of new features you can bring to bear to your overall system without prohibitive need to design and build them into every tier. I am thinking about not only things like security, mediation, and routing, but also bread and butter SOA and API things like metrics, service level monitoring, rate limiting, and centralized service lifecycle management.
We are particularly excited to see how the Microsoft community reacts to Intermediary for Microsoft in 2014. Our prediction is that we will help many customers streamline and optimize their Microsoft environments with new capabilities that will surprise them (and hopefully delight them). Part of the customer motivation will be creating order out of SOA environments that may have grown wild over the last few years for lack of good management tools or other business goals taking higher priority. Another motivation will be the need to begin executing on an API strategy to support upcoming mobile initiatives. Mobile shows no signs of abating, and as we know data is fully one half of the mobile story. And getting enterprise data out to the cloud is what Intermediary for Microsoft does really well.
Speaking of predictions, what will 2014 be like for Microsoft? If BizTalk Integration Summit 2013 is any indication, it will be good for Microsoft’s enterprise integration strategies. One of the main discussion topics was BizTalk Services, a very innovative and new integration-as-a-service offering. Its promise is to use cloud technology to help remove all the hard parts of integration – hosting environments, network access, scalability, reliability. Microsoft is following this up with business process management capabilities that could be extremely compelling, although it is hard to form firm conclusions at this early stage.
In 2014 we will see Microsoft continue to make great headway on bread and butter areas like infrastructure-as-a-service and SaaS offerings like Office 365. But in line with the themes of the BizTalk Summit, 2014 will also be the first year we start seeing clarity on how customers can properly use the Microsoft platform to solve pressing integration challenges in this new world of cloud, mobile, and SaaS.
Microsoft is great at releasing customer solutions that solve complex problems easily, and integration is one of the most complex problems around. With offerings like BizTalk, Service Bus, Windows Azure Active Directory, Mobile Services, and others, Microsoft is starting to converge on a set of technologies that customers can use to move their existing IT systems forward. If there is demand for new and easier patterns of integration, and I think there is, we can expect to see a host of customers step forward in 2014 to show us all how to put to use the new integration capabilities of the Microsoft platform to great effect.
And don’t forget about Microsoft’s partners. Let us know what integration challenges you are trying to solve in 2014 – and how we can help. This leads to our most important prediction for 2014 – that you will end the year with an IT environment more streamlined and ready for the future than you thought possible. 2014 is the year to make this happen.