Microsoft's Oslo Vision: Windows Becomes A Platform For Heterogeneous SOA - InformationWeek

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11/1/2007
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Microsoft's Oslo Vision: Windows Becomes A Platform For Heterogeneous SOA

Microsoft is boasting of Windows future ability to cross heterogeneous systems, generate composite applications, and even link different organizations.

But Microsoft distinguished engineer John Shewchuk, after the formal presentations, gave a more graphic example. Suppose, he said, an aircraft engineer at GE wants to review engine data produced by a Boeing application? If such a state of collaboration existed, it would be possible for the GE engineer to query a Microsoft BizTalk Server on the Internet, asking for the data.

The server would recognize both the user's request and the application toward which it was directed, without prior notification or set up. After getting a federated identity credential -- one that satisfies the security needs of both companies -- it would mediate the exchange between a Boeing application and GE user. It would retrieve from the Boeing application a user client, and send it to the GE engineer. It would make secure routing connections between that client and the application and perform any message transformations needed enroute.

Said Shewchuk: "This is an incredibly different communication pattern than SOA normally invokes." No changes are needed to the application to make it function outside the organization "other than a configuration change" that realigns its messaging. That is, instead of listening for HTTP calls at one server port, it is assigned another port where the user will be connected.

The Oslo vision also will be enabled in the short term by a greater commitment to modeling. "We're making our platform truly model driven," added Wahbe.

Modeling makes software easier to visualize. Code can be generated from carefully constructed models and the models linked to the code to capture changes. Visibility into the software tends to lead to faster development, fewer bugs, greater reliability, Wahbe said.

Modeling will be made a standard feature in Microsoft's next releases of Visual Studio development tools, its .Net Framework, its BizTalk Server business process design software, and its System Center system management software. Ovum's Davis says the practical date for modeling, shared repositories, and other Oslo features to appear as a standard part of the product line is sometime in 2009.

"We're moving modeling up to ten times the number of people" who use it today, predicted Don Ferguson, Microsoft technical fellow and lead-off speaker at the conference. Only a few high-end tools, such as IBM's Rational unit's, integrate models across the steps of the software development process.

Key information summarizing what's in a model can move from one stage of development with Microsoft's tools, such as an architect's system design in Visual Studio Team System, to the next, where code is automatically generated from the design and worked on further by developers. The ability of the model to follow the code comes from the tools' underlying repositories being able to share key information about each model, regardless of the role of the model generator.

"We want to move models to the center of application development," said Steven Martin, director of product management at Microsoft's Connected Systems Division.

That capability is still a ways off in the future, but Martin said the repository code is being tested in different tools and will become a feature of Visual Studio Team System Version 10; BizTalk Server 6; .Net Framework 4; and System Center 5. "We plan to have at least one major customer technology preview in 2008," stated an Oslo technology white paper dated November 2007.

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