Team Foundation Server Targets the Mass Market

Microsoft promises Team Foundation Server is only the first step.

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 VSTS, 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 satisfy increases in industry regulations. Microsoft formally announced Visual Studio 2005 in November. However, 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 this year.

TFS, along with VSTS, puts Microsoft squarely in the ALM (application lifecycle management) space, which features requirements management tools, configuration management tools, source code analysis tools, testing tools and other tools that enable organizations to build better mission-critical enterprise applications.

LaPlante said the Redmond, Wash., company knew that to succeed in this space, it had to build a suite of tools that was approachable, integrated and productive. Related to this, the Microsoft Project group in January bought UMT, a project and portfolio management software and service provider.

"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. The product supports project managers, software architects, software developers and software testers, with additional roles to come.

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 one another and other Microsoft technologies.

As Microsoft continues to focus on expanding the roles that VSTS supports, the company also is looking to better enable developers to do Web 2.0-style development, such as composite applications and enterprise mashups, as part of its Windows Live strategy, Somasegar said. But 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 tool set for creating Live services, to 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."

Despite having passed on its opportunity to acquire Rational Software, Microsoft went on to woo several Rational developers to come to Redmond to help build VSTS. Indeed, sources said Microsoft courted Grady Booch, Rationals chief scientist, but he decided to remain with IBM.

Yet, what started as a simple idea to expand Microsofts presence in the enterprise is now the main driver of the companys Developer Division.

"We think this is clearly going to be the growth engine for developer tools," Somasegar said. "And, so far, life is good."

Carey Schwaber, an analyst with Forrester Research, in Cambridge, Mass., said he believes Microsofts prospects in the enterprise tools space are "pretty strong." He said Microsoft has achieved enterprise-class scalability with its tool set. Still, "the biggest obstacle to their penetration of the enterprise tools market is platform support," Schwaber said.

"I dont see this challenge going away any time soon," Schwaber said. "Enterprise IT shops are heterogeneous environments, and the drive to standardization of development tools means that many will eschew tools with limited platform support so as not to unnecessarily create silos."

Marcel de Vries, an IT architect at Info Support International Group, in Veenendaal, Netherlands, said, "When Mi-crosoft announced they would be delivering a new set of tools that fully supports our vision on building quality software, we jumped on board with the Technical Adoption Program and worked with Microsoft to see how we could replace the engine in our software factory."

De Vries said Info Support had been using "homegrown and open-source tools to do our daily job. We wanted to start to use the Microsoft tools so we could get rid of the burden of maintaining a lot of these tools ourselves. This enabled us to be more innovative in the configuration, setup and tuning of our software factory and not [have] to worry about commodity tools that help us build and execute unit tests or run a daily build."