With the recent release of the Team Foundation Server component of its Visual Studio 2005 Team System, Microsoft bolstered its effort to take its mass market software story into the enterprise, and the company says this is only the first step.
Rick LaPlante, general manager of Visual Studio Team System, said, "This is a mass market approach … We go to customers and we talk to them about this mass market play, this mass market price point, this mass market ease of use."
However, LaPlante added, "I dont think the enterprise tools business will ever be mass market in the way Visual Basic was. But should we sell more than 30,000 licenses a year or whatever the market is doing? Yes."
Microsoft released TFS to manufacturing on March 17. TFS is a workflow collaboration engine and serves as a centralized data warehouse for development project information.
With TFS, organizations can automatically collect the information necessary to generate customized reports that help address the increases in industry regulation.
Microsoft formally announced Visual Studio 2005 in November, 2005, but the TFS component of the Team System version of the product was not available and Microsoft said it would be ready during the first quarter of 2006.
TFS, along with VSTS, puts Microsoft squarely in the ALM (application lifecycle management) space, which features requirements management tool, configuration management tools, source code analysis tools, testing tools and other tools that enable organizations to build better mission-critical enterprise applications.
However, "For all our best intent, VSTS came out as just some more cool tools for VS [Visual Studio]," LaPlante said. "And we heard from CIOs and others that we were missing the other part of the story. This is about optimizing the organization top to bottom."
LaPlante said Microsoft knew that to succeed in this space it had to build a suite of tools that was approachable, integrated and productive.
"We saw the need for a suite of tools that starts with tools for the CIO," he said. "We wanted a set of tools that the CIO and the business leaders could use to define their business objectives, and we wanted to codify that into a portfolio of management tools."
Related to this, in January the Microsoft Project group bought UMT, a project and portfolio management software and service provider based in New York.
"This is not by chance," LaPlante said. "UMT is a fantastic portfolio management story. So we said we needed a tool suite that started with the CIO and the PMO [project management office] and then connected down and breaks that wall into the engineering team and the development organization."
Moreover, VSTS supports various roles. Right now, the product supports project managers, software architects, software developers and software testers, with additional roles to come.
"Our strategy is to be very broad," LaPlante said. "We have developer, architect, tester, project manager covered to some extent. What other roles are there? Business analyst, CIO or business decision maker, database analyst, designer?"
LaPlante said all of these roles will likely be addressed by the toolset in later iterations.
Support for designers would likely come through integration with Microsofts Expression tools.
Meanwhile, S. "Soma" Somasegar, corporate vice president of Microsofts developer division, said a major strength of the VSTS platform is that the components integrate so well with each other and with other Microsoft technologies.
As Microsoft continues to focus on expanding the roles that VSTS supports, the company also is looking ahead to how it will better enable developers to do Web 2.0 style development of composite applications and things like enterprise mashups as part of its "Live" strategy for its developer solutions, Somasegar said.
But as yet no solid decisions have been made on how to proceed regarding VSTS.
"There are two things we have to think about when we say what does Live mean for the developer world," Somasegar said.
"One is how can Visual Studio be the best toolset for creating live services, customize live services and to be able to do mashups and other things when it comes to services.
"Beyond that we have to look at what are the services we should provide for our developers to be more successful on our platform. But it is much broader than just a place for you to store your source code," Somasegar said.