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Microsoft has issued new architectural guidance for organizations looking to implement software as a service systems.

On Feb. 8, Microsoft announced its new architectural guidance in the form of a sample application, said Tim O’Brien, director of platform strategy at Microsoft.

The Microsoft sample SAAS application is known as LitwareHR, a fictitious human resources application providing recruitment management software delivered as a service, O’Brien said.

Indeed, the most important aspect of this application is not what the application does, but how it does it, O’Brien added.

LitwareHR uses the latest Microsoft technologies such as .Net Framework 3.0 and SQL Server 2005, and the sample application implements single-instance multi-tenancy patterns, said Gianpaolo Carraro, director of the Solutions Architecture Group at Microsoft.

O’Brien said the new sample application is based on guidance Microsoft already has been publishing on its MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network).

“We’re adding to on-premises offerings with SAAS offerings,” O’Brien said. “The obvious next step was to go from pure guidance to a reference implementation.”

Essentially, the guidance is about using the Microsoft platform in the context of a SAAS solution. And the guidance, along with the sample application is the result of discussions Microsoft has had with independent software vendors, Carraro said.

In the SAAS world, companies have to overcome three primary challenges: scalability, customization and multi-tenant efficiency, Carraro said.

So the Microsoft guidance helps organizations deal with scaling from enterprise level to Internet level opportunities. It introduces architecture patterns to all for customization for each tenant, and the architecture will also leverage economies of scale.

“It’s an enablement effort on our part,” O’Brien said.

Carraro said the ISVs Microsoft talked with about SAAS include “startups that got funded in this model and offer software as a service,” as well as established, large ISVs.

“So we’re talking about both green field environments and also migration discussions with established players who want to move to software as a service” models, Carraro said.

Interest in SAAS is expected to grow in 2007. Click here to read more.

Meanwhile, at the end of December, Carraro wrote a list of predictions for 2007, including, “SAAS will be an integral part of the enterprise SOA. In their effort of optimizing IT, enterprises will source part of their IT service portfolio from outside the corporate firewall, fostering a new type of hybrid “on premise,” “in the cloud” architecture.”

Also, “To sell to enterprises SAAS solutions will become more sophisticated, supporting single sign on, Web services based integration APIs and expose management events.”

Carraro also predicted that, “Big established players [which current startups are making fun of] will enter the SAAS space with more complete offerings.

In addition, Carraro predicetd that, “Client side mash-ups will still grow, but mainly in the consumer space where guarantees are not a top requirement. In the enterprise space, mash-ups will tend to happen on the server side where SLAs of ‘mashed-up’ solutions will be offered.”

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