...by Daniel Szego
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."
Leonardo da Vinci

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Software as a Service in the cloud à la Azure

Well Azure software as a service portfolio seems to boom. One finds new services and solutions every day. Examples are for instance, PowerApps for mobile application development, Flow as a rule Engine, Microsoft Forms, Power BI for Big Data, GigJam for data visualization, Sway for visualization as well and who knows what comes the next week. 

To analyse this chaos, we try to categories these services with two dimensions:

1. Targeted Customer Segment: sometimes it is pretty difficult to identify for the first run, which customer segment is targeted by an Azure tool. Is it a tool that is planned for end-customers, is it rather a tool for small businesses or is the customer segment really enterprise. As an example  Sway seems to be a real end customer segment, create your content,  share with your friends, be happy. On the other hand tools like PowerApps or PowerBI planned rather on a business segment.

2. Possibility for customization or integration: The second dimension that should be considered is the possibility of customization or integration. Some tools like Sway are rather out of the box products, without the possibility of customize too many things or integrate with other SaaS solutions. Other services like Azure Machine Learning provide pretty much possibility to customize with, or without scripts or create integration via rest api with other services of Azure. In this sense they have many characteristic with Platform as a Service solutions. Perhaps, Framework as a Service would be an adequate name. 

Certainly, the whole area is changing pretty fast, so not only the current positioning of a service is important, but the future direction as well. As an example, the mobile App development framework Project Siena was focusing on the end-customer segment,  it has been further developed for the enterprise segment and renamed as PowerApps.  

We try to summarize some of the SaaS products on the following picture. Certainly the exact characterization of a certain Azure service based only our fast subjective analysis.

Figure 1. Azure SaaS Portfolio Analysis.