You might as well show by doing. Telling a story is great but to get users it's critical for people to try the service by using it themselves. Right?

That's the idea behind Fabrikam Shipping SaaS, a lab of sorts used by Microsoft to demonstrate Windows Azure. The service is designed to show how customers can move from traditional, on-premises software to a full subscription model.

Fabrikam Shipping shows how customers can be moved to a SaaS platform. The site teaches people how to create customized application instances and handle multi-tenancy. Customers can learn to authenticate and authorize users and organizations. Other capabilities include how to scale the subscription service; integrations with Paypal and full isolation and multi-tenant application deployment styles.

Users are first brought to the Fabrikam shipping page to pick the service they wish to use. It shows a few things. You can set features to each level of service. Tracking is available. Federated identity services are integrated with the enterprise package.

The enterprise edition provides explanations about its requirements. It offers single sign-on with the subscriber's network, which requires the tenant to have their own identity provider. In particular, Microsoft recommends its own federated identity service: Active Directory Federated Service (2.0).

The information page further explains:

"Fabrikam Shipping spawns exclusive Windows Azure hosted services and storage accounts, and createds dedicated SQL Azure databases: this provides the maximum level of isolation between tenants, while minimizing the changes that Fabrikam had to do on the application in order to move to a subscription model."

The next steps take the user through four steps: company data; single sign-on; access policies and confirmation.

According to Microsoft, Fabrikam Shipping SaaS allows you to create a service with all the features of what a SaaS would provide if one set it up themselves. This may be no different than using a service that has a sandbox or test environment. What sets this demo apart is its polish and simplicity.

Services such as Fabrikam Shipping help break down the complexities of what it takes to use a cloud service.

Really, there is no better way to understand what a service provide. It's how we learn about its capabilities. Telling a story is one thing. Showing what you can do is something entirely different.


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