If Microsoft has its way, many more DevOps processes will revolve around the cadence at which the company upgrades its applications. At its Inspire 2017 conference, the tech behemoth announced an ISV Cloud Embed initiative designed to entice more developers to add value by extending application functionality it has already developed and deployed in the cloud.
Rather than reinvent the same functionality over again, Microsoft will provide developers with access to its application at price points that are as much as 50 percent less than what an end user might pay, notes Alysa Taylor, general manager for Microsoft Business Applications and Industry. In addition, the company is promising to help software developer partners reach 100 million commercial active users of Office 365 and Dynamic 365 customers through the Microsoft AppSource online store.
The specific software modules the company is providing developers access to under this program include:
- Dynamics 365 Embedded: a suite of business applications the company is hoping third-party developers will customize and extend across a variety of vertical industries.
- Microsoft Flow Embedded: Makes it possible to customize workflows to automate business processes within their application.
- PowerApps Embedded: Provides access to extensions that make it easier to deliver an application via a browser or as a mobile application.
- Power BI Embedded: Allows users to easily embed fully interactive reports and dashboards.
This latest initiative is a logical extension of the work the company has been doing to entice developers to employ Microsoft Office as the front end for accessing a wide variety of back-end services.
The challenge IT organizations that go down this path will face is aligning the pace of DevOps with the rate at which the company is updating its applications.
Microsoft is not the only IT vendor that presents this DevOps challenge. The more a software developer invokes APIs, the more complicated managing the DevOps process can become. The whole concept of continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) can get sorely tested when control over when the back-end services being invoked via an API are updated.
In effect, software developers are being asked to make a buy-versus-build decision. To entice developers to make a buy, the company not only provides a common API framework, but also developers will be able to take advantage of any investments it makes in artificial intelligence across the entire Microsoft application portfolio.
Taylor says Microsoft is committed to working with partners to eliminate any competitive friction. The company is in the process of implementing a massive reorganization under which the company’s core technology groups are being aligned around four technology groups: Modern Workplace, Business Applications, Applications and Infrastructure, and Data and AI. The rest of the company is then being organized around a go-to-market strategy that is focused on education, financial services, government, healthcare, manufacturing and retail industry segments. Microsoft is looking for partners that can apply their own intellectual property to extend its core applications into each of those segments, says Taylor.
It remains to be seen just how well partnering with Microsoft can work on a practical DevOps level. But the one thing that is clear is that there will be no shortage of software developers who are about to find out.