Microsoft Corp is signing-up ISVs and Systems Integration (SIs) to produce so-called Software Factories, a set of plug-ins to the forthcoming Visual Studio 2005 designed to simplify building robust, domain-specific applications.
The company told ComputerWire that ISVs and SIs are expected to announce support for Software Factories during the not to distant future.
Software Factories are a new concept for Microsoft, and are intended to automate more of the construction process associated with applications such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) for specific domains in fields like the auto industry or human resources.
Software Factories will feature domain specific tools, processes and content, such as patterns, dynamic help, and pre-defined project template. The factories are intended to be re-usable.
Jack Greenfield, software architect for enterprise frameworks and tools, said Microsoft expects to provide a series of domain and industry neutral Software Factories tackling, for example, Service Oriented Architectures (SOAs), thick client databases and smart clients.
Microsoft expects to deliver its first Software Factories with Visual Studio 2005, due in the first half of next year.
However, for Software Factories to achieve their full potential Microsoft is looking to partners to provide the necessary vertical or domain specific features. We think it’s very much a partner play. Microsoft has knowledge of some domains, but the vast majority of the domain knowledge is out there in the industry, Greenfield said.
Greenfield said it is unclear yet how Software Factories will be packaged, but they would initially be in coarse grained chunks. You may buy a package for Siebel that you install in Visual Studio and that makes Visual Studio a software factory for CRM applications. You are punching our CRM applications more automatically than if you had raw Visual Studio, Greenfield said.
One outcome maybe for partners to make Software Factories available as web services, which are downloaded by a developer when using Visual Studio 2005, Greenfield said.
Greenfield would not say which ISVs and SIs it is signing-up. However, likely candidates in the ISV community include ERP vendors like SAP and Oracle, enterprise software companies whose domain-specific experience is delivered through products and the consultants who install and customize their systems for customers.