While the last bullet isn’t a Web app, SQL Server Data Services is obviously a building block for constructing Web apps and could fill up some of the data centers that were also part of the rumors. The beta will be available in 3 to 4 weeks with a launch by the end of the year. Note that SSDS isn’t a full fledged hosted SQL Server or just a raw data store like Amazon’s S3. It fits in between as a simplified structured database service with the closest analog being Amazon’s simpleDB. It is early days yet, but one can’t help but wonder whether other major database vendors have the will (and the wherewithal) to join the party.
Finally, while they aren’t Web apps either, earlier last week Microsoft announced some more data center filler with the extension of their Microsoft Online Services offering of hosted versions of Exchange and SharePoint to small and mid-sized businesses.
Predictably, the press release is effusive in describing the opportunities for Microsoft partners, even those whose Exchange hosting services have been neatly undercut. The theory is that they can now sell Microsoft’s hosted service with a bunch of their own embellishments. Less happy are ISV’s who sell SharePoint add-ons that won’t appear in the Microsoft offering. There’s surely a pony in Microsoft hosting their own server applications, but it’s a low margin, capital intensive business compared to selling software.