Weekly Roundup: April 8, 2011 – Microsoft Online Services Edition

The focus of this week’s roundup in on Microsoft Online Services.  Typically when you hear about “the cloud” in a Microsoft developer discussion someone is getting ready to talk about Azure and its various services.  However, in my world I think that Office 365 and BPOS are just as important in this discussion.  If for nothing else then they offer a different path to get developers to the cloud.

Changing Patterns of Exchange Integration  There’s no doubt that BPOS and now Office 365 changed the game not only for IT admins and end-users but for the ISVs that integrate with Exchange.  On the Office 365 blog last month we announced that RIM will have a peripheral cloud-based service of their own for Blackberry customers to connect to Exchange Online.  This is a significant example of how IT moving core services like Exchange to the cloud is going to  change the way developers integrate with them.

Online Service Descriptions We post service descriptions that go into great detail of all the end-user, administrative, and developer features of the different services that make up a particular offering. Later today I will start publishing a series of posts that look deeper into these service descriptions for Exchange Online to extract key information for Exchange developers. The three major service types are Standard, Dedicated, and Federal and we’ll look at each one. For now, here are the links to the service descriptions:

Evolution of Exchange Development  Using the service descriptions above my goal over the next few posts will be to illustrate the evolution of Exchange development from Exchange 2003 to 2010 and into Exchange Online with Office 365.   Whether because of a phased migration or business requirements, expect to see many hybrid deployments of Exchange in the near future with some mailboxes online and some on-premises.  Understanding the API set available in Exchange Online and figuring out how to build applications that can integrate not only with Exchange on-premises but Exchange Online is very important going forward.

Windows Azure Jump Start  The changing pattern for developers who work with Exchange is not only going to be the APIs used to connect to Exchange Online but the platforms they use for their applications.  If your customer moves all his or her mailboxes out of their datacenter to the cloud you can bet they ask you about getting your application servers out too.  Whether the choice is to use Windows Azure or not, understanding the platforms and paradigms of cloud computing are an essential skill.  If you are interesting in Windows Azure, I just finished a great series of videos up on Channel 9 called the Windows Azure Jump Start which I highly recommend for doing just that – jump starting your understanding of Azure and its various services.