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Oslo: Microsoft Takes Composite Applications to the Mainstream

by Jean-Jacques Dubray on Oct 30, 2007 |

Microsoft unveiled this morning a vision and roadmap to simplify SOA, bridge software + services and take composite applications to the mainstream. At the fifth SOA and BPM conference in Redmond, the company announced a wave of product launches and a multi-year set of technical investments that provide extensions to the application platform to help developers bridge on-premise and off-premise projects. The code name of this effort is “Oslo”.

Oslo builds on the model-driven and service-enabled principles of Microsoft Dynamics IT.

Jeff Raikes, President of Microsoft Business Division (MBD) explains:

“Many customers are challenged to realize the promise of SOA given today’s complexities, the combination of our current software + services approach and the new wave of ‘Oslo’ technologies will enable IT to deliver high-impact business solutions.”

Robert Wahbe, Corporate Vice President of the Connected Systems Division, and keynote speaker at the conference added:

“Oslo will enable a new class of applications that are connected and streamlined — from design through deployment — reducing complexity, aligning the enterprise and Internet, and simplifying interoperability and management.”

At the conference, Microsoft also demonstrated an upcoming Community Technology Preview of “Microsoft BizTalk Services” which provides additional support for interoperability, Web 2.0 services, identity standards and workflow in-the-cloud.

InfoQ spoke with Burley. Kawasaki, Director of Product Management in the connected System’s division who gave us an introduction on the project:

Today the business is moving much faster than IT can deliver. IT has started to find solutions, but we can and need to go beyond the current advances in application construction. Oslo defines the future of application development with a strong focus on productivity and composition. Microsoft is targeting major challenges in this area. For instance, boundaries are still a problem making application development difficult: across technologies (there are lots of standards that you need to navigate), across the firewall (SaaS), across the web (B2B) and across organizations. We want to focus on SOA and Composite Applications to significantly simplify the design, build, deployment and management of solutions.

We are quadrupling our investment in SOA, targeting both on-premise and in-the-cloud scenarios. We will be delivering this vision through server and tools products in five key areas.

  • Server – Microsoft BizTalk Server “6” will continue to provide a core foundation to develop, manage, and deploy composite applications.
  • Services – BizTalk Services “1” will offer commercially supported release of Web-based services such as advanced messaging, identity and workflow capabilities, supporting hosted composite applications that cross organizational boundaries.
  • Framework – The Microsoft .Net Framework “4” release will further enable model-driven-development with WCF and WF.
  • Tools – Visual Studio “10” will support end-to-end application lifecycle management through new tools for model-driven-design of distributed applications
  • Repository – the metadata repositories across server and tools product sets are being aligned. Microsoft System Center “5”, Visual Studio “10” and BizTalk Server “6” will utilize a repository technology for managing, versioning and deploying models.

We want to make Model-Driven-Development more successful than it has been. We want to make it mainstream by targeting CAD-like productivity improvements. We also want to help our customer lower the skill barriers: it is still too difficult to find skilled SOA developers, architects and quality analysts.

We want to send the model to the server not to the printer. MDD is suffering from two limitations. First, the model represents a point-in-time snap shot of the business logic, there are many gaps that people have to fill as they translate it into code. Second, people had only certain views into the model, there was no end-to-end view. Today, models are trapped in silos. As long as these silos exist modeling will remain at the periphery of application development. We need to create an end-to-end view supported by new tools, engines and repository. For instance, the concept of “code-behind” could decrease significantly with a shift to modern MDD techniques.

Based on some tests we have done internally we experience a major productivity increase: about 1/10th of code that would be normally needed to build a solution. Overall this is a major advance for our customers and our partners too, especially the business process alliance.

Oslo is scheduled to be released sometime in 2009. Microsoft plans to have at least one major CTP of “Oslo” technologies in 2008. More information is available on Microsoft's SOA site.

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A composite application framework for developers: missing the point? by Robin Mulkers

I don't believe that a new version of a development framework, enhanced capabilities for existing products will really help in bridging the gap between the Business and IT.
I think composite applications and SOA are about opening the IT systems towards the business users and have finally IT and business speaking the same language: processes and services.
If you understand this, the value of an improved technology stack is negligible compared to any improvement in how IT and the business collaborate.
Any effort to simplify the way applications are built is positive but I think that this is what has been done for years, not something new at all and not really innovative enough to me.

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