Microsoft Enterprise Library – What Do Customers Want ?
As the Enterprise Library product owner and now program manager, I frequently talk to users. Despite the fact that we position the Enterprise Library as coded guidance, I consistently hear the sentiment that it is perceived as a product. As one customer unequivocally put it, “We don’t care what you call it. As far as we are concerned, Enterprise Library is no different from .NET Framework. Therefore, we expect three things: quality, support and continuity. ” Let me address these in this posting.
The quality bar of the Enterprise Library is very high. When producing a release, our team goes through similar quality gates any other Microsoft product will have to go through. Furthermore, since we ship the source code (which is part of the guidance), our key objective is for the code to embody the good and proven practices of designing and building line-of-business systems and components on the platform. A lot can be learned from the code itself as well as the full suite of unit tests that we ship.
Today, Enterprise Library is used in most if not all industries (incl. financial, insurance, manufacturing, retail, healthcare, transportation, etc). It is also used by governments and non-profit organizations. By mid next year we expect the total number of EntLib downloads to reach 2 million. I do recognize the problems with such statistics (it may not accurately illustrate the actual number of EntLib users, since many people have probably downloaded EntLib dozens of times; on the other hand, there are many enterprise customers who download it only once, validate the release according to their own operational acceptance criteria, sometimes modify it, and then disseminate to thousands of developers worldwide). The Net Promoter Score for EntLib is 54% (!) That’s super high [see my upcoming post on NPS]. Speaking of which, if you haven’t filled out the EntLib customer satisfaction survey, we would appreciate if you took a few minutes to do so. At the recent TechEd EMEA conference, I’ve asked the audience how many people were using EntLib. I was so thrilled that I got my camera out and took a couple of photos. It’s amazing, I only counted a few people who didn’t raise their hands.
EntLib is also used internally. In fact, internal adoption of the Enterprise Library is increasing. This is very encouraging. As someone who always fought the Not-Invented-Here-Syndrome, I am pleased to see that other groups at Microsoft are making use of EntLib goodness. Importantly, it’s not only Microsoft IT (our internal IT org) that uses EntLib. Pieces of EntLib are shipping as parts of actual shrink-wrapped products.
We’ve continuously provided support via forums (http://www.codeplex.com/entlib/Thread/List.aspx, http://www.codeplex.com/entlib/WorkItem/List.aspx, http://www.codeplex.com/unity/Thread/List.aspx). Besides the core development team, we also have a dedicated sustained engineering team continuously monitoring the forums and answering questions. In fact, by the most recent version of EntLib (4.1) we have resolved all open EntLib issues that had 5 votes or more.
In addition, customers were always able to receive appropriate support through Microsoft Premier Services (though it was treated as customer-written code). We also announced partnership with Avanade to provide support and sustained engineering (starting Nov 1, 2008). For more information, see http://www.avanade.com/entlib/. Our vision is to develop an ecosystem of partners providing both support and building extensions to the Enterprise Library. One example of such extensions is the distributed cache provider for Caching Application Block (via NCache – see http://www.alachisoft.com/ncache/ncache_express.html).
When talking about continuity, I believe there is no doubt that Microsoft heavily invested in the development of the Enterprise Library (7 releases in three years). We intend to maintain that heartbeat of producing at least one major release a year. We now have a strong, well-gelled team that we intend to preserve and expand as we move forward. My next post will talk about our current work and also our plans in terms of v5.
I hope the above explanations demonstrate that Microsoft Enterprise Library is here to stay. Evidence from the field tells us clearly that a great number of customers is using EntLib and deriving value from it. This is what keeps us energized and going. We’ve had a great collaboration with many of you in the community and we look forward to more of it. We are committed to our mandate: making you succeed on the platform. Enjoy the ride!
P.S. For those of you who feel bad about using EntLib for free, we’ll take your feedback as payment :) Thank you in advance.