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InfoQ Homepage News Microsoft Releases Managed Services Engine (Repository)

Microsoft Releases Managed Services Engine (Repository)

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The topic of virtualization has been heating up in the SOA space as more and more enterprises look for ways to harvest their existing IT assets towards new service infrastructure. Microsoft's recent silence on the issue has now made way for a community focused release of a meta-data driven service repository.

The MSE fully enables service virtualization through a Service Repository, which helps organizations deploy services faster, coordinate change management, and maximize the reuse of various service elements. In doing so, the MSE provides the ability to support versioning, abstraction, management, routing, and runtime policy enforcement for Services.

Available on Codeplex, Microsoft's open source project hosting site, the Managed Services Engine embodies an approach developed by Microsoft Services for their enterprise SOA customers. Currently a version 6.2 release, this Community Technology Preview makes virtualization of both WCF and regular WSDL services possible and comes with a 30 minute walkthrough.

InfoQ sat down with William Oellermann, the coordinator of the Managed Services Engine project to discuss the release. Coming on the heels of the announcement about Microsoft's recently announced Oslo project, we asked Oellermann if MSE is a part of Oslo:

No, the MSE has been developed over the last few years by Microsoft Services with customers.  However, we are sharing our solution, its application, and our learnings with [the Connected Systems Division] and the Oslo team to make sure that we apply that knowledge to make our products better.
BizTalk has always been a key component in Microsoft's SOA strategy, incorporated in central esb guidance . Oellermann has this to say about the connection between MSE and BizTalk as well as its other requirements:
.NET 3.0 and SQL Server are the only requirements.  BizTalk is a valuable add-on to provide BAM, BRE, Entity Mapping, and ESB Guidance to specific implementations.

The conversation moved on to the stated benefits of faster service deployment and the vertical domains in which Microsoft Services had used MSE:

The MSE has been used in the telecommunications, travel, healthcare, and education industries.  We have not put together an official ROI on the MSE yet, but the best demonstration of how much faster services can be deployed is made by making changes to an existing service.  With endpoints, protocols, contracts, and policy defined through configuration, you can take an existing service implementation and create a dozen variations is mere minutes with no coding.  Conservatively, that time and effort is easily 25% of what it would take using "traditional" methods.
Not to be confused with existing SOA governance solutions provided by Microsoft and its partners, Oellermann described the difference between the idea of a repository found in MSE and SOA registries found in the governance space:
To clarify, we call the MSE Service Catalog a repository, not a registry.  We see the repository as the set of all information relevant to the design and execution of services whereas the registry is just the subset you want to publish.  In our model the repository would provide the necessary information to the registry.  Our repository is different from any other repository or registry because it does not contain WSDL's, it contains operations, endpoints, implementations, and policies and we generate the appropriate WSDL dynamically based on the relationships.  It really puts us in a position to raise the level of agility realized through SOA.

Oellermann was optimistic about the use of the Managed Services Engine going forward, specifically in the best practices it incorporates for WCF development:

We will continue using the MSE with various customer engagements and we will collect feedback from them and our CodePlex community to determine the areas to improve and extend the MSE.  We see this release as a solid core that we and others will continue to leverage for new scenarios by adding bindings, behaviors, and other WCF extensions.

Also, an upgrade path to Oslo is expected to be made available sometime in the future:

At some point, it is expected that the functionality of the MSE runtime server and service catalog will be subsumed by our platform, products, and or servers.  We will work very closely with the product team to provide a roadmap for customers so that their investment in their SOA repository data will be protected.

To stay updated about further developments on the Managed Services Engine, visit their site on Codeplex.

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