Microsoft plots ambitious SOA roadmap

The set of technologies code-named Oslo aims to merge models designed around applications, business processes and IT deployments into a single entity

Microsoft this week laid out an ambitious SOA roadmap around a set of technologies code-named Oslo that will be blended into its middleware, development, and management tools and some of its emerging enterprise online services.

The company unveiled the service-oriented architecture roadmap at its annual Microsoft SOA and Business Process Conference in Redmond, Wash. While it was long on future product integrations around Oslo, it was void of dates for general availability.

The goal with Oslo is to merge models designed around applications, business processes and IT deployments into a single entity and infuse Oslo technologies into network infrastructure to ease rollouts of SOA-based applications and online services.

Oslo technologies also will be incorporated into future versions of BizTalk Server, Visual Studio, the Office System clients and servers and the family of System Center management tools to provide a platform for deploying SOA-based applications.

Microsoft also is working on a repository technology for Oslo meta-data that will be built into its infrastructure servers and tools.

The work also will incorporate key .Net Framework technologies, the Windows Communication Foundation, which is used to support service-oriented applications, and the Windows Workflow Foundation. Oslo will also incorporate online technologies such as the Silverlight client and BizTalk Services.

It is the first time Microsoft has outlined how it plans to integrate its emerging SOA platform and its software-plus-services initiatives.

Oslo is not a single product, but a set of technologies that will include a new modeling tool that integrates models regardless of the language they are written in. Current Microsoft modeling tools, such as the Whitehorse components of Visual Studio, will evolve under this new Oslo tool, according to Microsoft.

"This is a very ambitious project, and we are gating our success on taking modeling mainstream," says Steven Martin, director of product management in Microsoft's connected systems division. "We want to make it available for the masses. We think there are huge productivity gains to be made with model-driven design."

Oslo won't make a wave of upcoming products slated for 2008, but will likely roll out over the next two or three years. Microsoft plans to have some Oslo technologies incorporated into various beta products in 2008.

Microsoft is moving to catch competitors, such as Oracle, BEA and IBM, in the race to provide SOA infrastructure to companies looking to build applications around reusable components that live on the network. In fact, Donald Ferguson, a Microsoft technical Fellow is helping spearhead the Oslo effort after joining Microsoft from IBM where he was a Fellow, chief architect for IBM's software group, and provided overall technical leadership around WebSphere, Tivoli, DB2, Rational and Lotus products.

Microsoft, however, is painting Oslo with a broad brush and is not discussing any specific packaging, branding or licensing details.

The company did say Oslo technologies will be incorporated into versions of products Microsoft revealed for the first time Tuesday: Microsoft System Center family 5, BizTalk Server 6, BizTalk Services 1, Microsoft .NET Framework 4 and Visual Studio 10.

Microsoft also said Oslo technologies will eventually target its core infrastructure servers anchored by Windows Server and SQL Server.

On the application-development side, Microsoft plans to use technology similar to .Net's Common Language Runtime, an environment for executing program code written in disparate languages. Oslo will blend models into one all-encompassing model that can be passed between development and business teams, who can see all the pieces incorporated into the model. The model in essence would become the application, according to Microsoft, and could be "executed" at any time against existing infrastructure and components running on the network and/or online services.

Oslo also would enhance SOA services for those deployments including federated identity, messaging and long-running activities.

Microsoft plans to support its existing BizTalk Orchestration engine and allow the standardized XLANG-based process to run with processes based on its proprietary Windows Workflow Foundation. Microsoft also says it plans to continue support for applications built on the .NET Framework 3.0 and 3.5.

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