Microsoft Touts Enterprise Service Bus Aid

In an event at Microsoft's Redmond, Wash., headquarters, company executives will talk up the software giant's Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) game plan and announce a few deliverables.

Microsoft, working with consulting partner Neudesic, has come up with prescriptive guidance to ease the construction of ESBs, as well as software components to facilitate their use.

An ESB acts as clearinghouse or broker mechanism to which the various applications or services link. The benefit is that VARs can click the applications into the bus using one set of interfaces instead of having to worry about myriad point-to-point connections. Cape Clear Software, Sonic Software and BEA Software have pioneered this technology.

"What Microsoft and Neudesic have built is a set of packaging recommendations around ESBs as well as software components that will help ISVs build an ESB much more quickly," said Tim Marshall, CTO of Irvine, Calif.-based Neudesic.

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"There's a set of documentation and a set of software components you'd install that address key challenges companies face in putting together ESBs," he noted.

An effective ESB, for example, requires a standard way to handle exceptions across the enterprise instead of a hodgepodge of processes. Also necessary is dynamic routing of messages as they flow between applications.

Microsoft has pitched its BizTalk Server and Windows Communications Foundation software as its bulwark ESB technologies and continues to do so.

Marshall said Microsoft's strategy stretches beyond those key offerings, however. "The larger Windows platform, its monitoring tools, data transformation services and SQL Server all come into play," he said.

But the key here, Marshall said, is that ESBs and SOAs won't work unless the services span vendor wares and technologies. Neudesic, for example, has worked with large health-care companies to make sure that the Microsoft wares run cleanly with IBM's MQSeries message queuing software.

In other news, at a Microsoft-hosed SOA conference this week, the company acknowledged what seems to be a slight slip in its delivery schedule for BizTalk 2006 R2. The update, which will add RFID and EDI support to BizTalk along with fixes, is now "firmly" slated to ship in the third quarter, said Steve Martin, director of product management for BizTalk. Microsoft had said last summer that delivery would likely be in the first half of 2007. In addition, Martin said the host connector adapters for BizTalk, formerly packaged as Host Integration Server, will ship this year.

The news comes a day after IBM Software hosted a teleconference outlining updates to its SOA strategy and product lineup and weeks after BEA Systems outlined its SOA 360 game plan.