Microsoft Offers Glimpse Of Its Services-Oriented Future

At its fifth annual Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and Business Process Management (BPM) conference in Redmond, Wash., Microsoft unveiled Oslo, a set of technology investments spanning several different products within the Server and Tools group.

Oslo will be baked into several future releases, including Biztalk Server 6, Biztalk Services 1, version 4 of the .NET framework, Visual Studio 10, and System Center 5. These will serve as the basis for Microsoft's SOA platform and be extended to third parties through the vendor's Business Process Alliance, according to Martin.

By integrating services and modeling, Oslo will make it easier to build and deploy collaborative applications, said Steven Martin, director of product management for Microsoft's Connected Systems division. "We think it's time to think about modeling and the changes we need to make to enable this technology for the mainstream," he said.

There has been considerable frustration in recent years around modeling, and Microsoft has responded with a "very ambitious effort" to enable modeling to fulfill its promise, says Bob Shear, president of Greystone Solutions, a Boston-based Microsoft partner.

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"Some of what they talked about is not going to affect my everyday business for a long time, although it may have a positive effect in general on partners' commitment to Microsoft's platform and strategy," said Shear.

Microsoft has what Martin characterized as "an active incubation" around software-as-a-service and Biztalk Server, which currently includes messaging and identity and will soon include workflow. This will come in handy when building applications that span both the premise and the cloud, he said.

"Web developers won't need to have a messaging infrastructure; they can just build the client and leverage the [cloud] infrastructure, including the core features that customers use in on-premises offerings," said Martin.

If you have an application built in .NET and you want to extend it to a third party, rather than going through the protocol soup of B2B, you can just expose some or all of the application to give the necessary visualization, Martin added.

The effort will rely in no small part on Microsoft's approximately 2,000 partners in the Business Process and Integration competency, about half of which are based in North America, said Martin.