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The Architecture of Multi-Enterprise Business Applications

by Jean-Jacques Dubray on Nov 03, 2008 |

Jack Greenfield and Wade Wegner introduced the concept of Multi-Enterprise Business Applications (MEBAs) at the PDC last week. MEBAs are business applications that leverage the Cloud to enable multiple partners to work together as part as common business processes.

Today, most organizations are deeply interconnected, and business applications span multiple enterprises. [We need to] built applications that satisfies requirements around connectivity, identity, orchestration, and storage, providing a scalable, pervasive, highly available, general-purpose platform that replaces custom software and infrastructure.

In the presentation they demo a "Product Return" process that they built in partnership with Microsoft's customer Red Prairie. They also introduce the patterns and guidelines they feel are important to build MEBAs using Cloud Computing services. Finally they provide a complete roadmap for building a model-driven MEBA platform.

The scenario requires identity mappings to facilitate the communication between business partners. It also requires some form of traceability for compliance reasons to be able to trace the path of the product recall. Both of these requirements are an important pre-requisite for any kind of MEBA explains Jack Greenfield. At the same time, he acknowledges that this is very expensive in terms of infrastructure if you build it yourself, this is why he thinks Cloud Computing is going to dramatically change the economics of Multi-Enterprise Applications

In the demo, they sample some of the Microsoft's Azure Services:

  • .Net services:
    • Access control
    • Service Bus
    • Workflow Services
  • SQL services:
    • Data Services

They review the patterns they feel are important for MEBAs and Cloud Computing:

  • Message relay
  • Store and forward
  • Content-based routing
  • Scatter-gather
  • Data transformation
  • Claim-based authentication
  • Federated trust

And offer some guidelines to architect MEBAs:

  • Data and process decoupling
  • Design for stateless interactions
  • long-running transactions managed by intermediaries
  • Location transparency
  • Claims based authentication
  • Relay vs Message store

Jack expresses that MEBAs can be useful to a number of industry and he sees a renaissance of B2B applications after efforts like ebXML and RosettaNet have disappointed in terms of achievements and adoptions. He explains that Cloud Computing offers the services that are needed at a fraction of the cost that it would have cost to build them for a particular market, industry or partner community.

The last part of the presentation introduces Microsoft's vision for a MEBA framework. The framework is composed of 2 layers built on top of the Azure Services layer:

  • MEBA Services
    • Party Management
      • community management,
      • lifecycle management,
      • broker-party SLA management
    • Service Choreography
      • identity mapping
      • process state synchronization
      • data transformation)
    • Business Process
    • Market Management
      • market provisioning
      • market state repository
      • market lifecycle management
  • MEBA Framework
    • Groups and Memberships
    • Roles and Privileges
    • Events and Notifications
    • Data Access Layer
    • Channel Factory
  • Azure Services Platform
    • Compute
    • Management
    • Storage
    • LiveID
    • Notification
    • Access Control
    • Service Bus
    • Workflow Services
    • SQL Data Services
    • Reporting Services
    • Analysis Services

Cloud Computing is establishing rapidly as the next wave of IT innovation. It feels like we are back in 1995 when many people started to discover the Web while others had already been working on it for a couple years. Today, after some years of foundational work by SalesForce.com, Amazon and others, it seems that a massive wave is about to sweep the software and hardware industry well beyond anyone's imagination. Everyday it seems that there are more compelling reasons to leverage the cloud as new pieces of Cloud Infrastructures fall into places. Do you feel the same way? is it yet another wave of hype-itecture for some mundane pieces of hardware and software? Do you have Cloud Projects in the pipeline?

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