Microsoft SOA and Business Process Conference

Top news from the keynote this morning when Microsoft announced a new SOA product/strategy , codename "OSLO".
The vision will start to become reality in the next but one version of current products including Biztalk, Visual Studio, Workflow Foundation and Communication Foundation (ie essentially .NET 4.0).  The recently coined ‘Internet service Bus’ also featured in discussions where Microsoft is promising to host key plumbing and routing services ("BizTalk Services") on the web, reassuringly the services will also be available via third party hosting and for internal hosting (an analogy made was to many ways that Exchange Server can be hosted today).
"Services" and "Modeling" are the two core foundation concepts behind the strategy, with consolidation across Microsoft’s SOA related products also very much a part of the equation (Biztalk will utilize WF and WCF in the future, with current engines also  supported).  We got an early demo of Microsoft’s high level modeling tool, referred to as "The Universal Editor", which aims to provide a single point of reference for all Microsoft’s (and third party partners) future modeling tools. 
Interestingly, having largely abandoned UML and Rational, Microsoft is embracing the concepts behind these with this new strategy.  BPEL was mentioned alongside a modeling language capable of handling SOA concepts and feeding into a new execution engine  – a future version of Biztalk!
Building on the technology available today, the “Oslo” advancements will be delivered through Microsoft server and tools products in five key areas:

Server. Microsoft BizTalk Server “6” will continue to provide a core foundation for distributed and highly scalable SOA and BPM solutions, and deliver the capability to develop, manage and deploy composite applications.

Services. BizTalk Services “1” will offer a commercially supported release of Web-based services enabling hosted composite applications that cross organizational boundaries. This release will include advanced messaging, identity and workflow capabilities.

Framework. The Microsoft .NET Framework “4” release will further enable model-driven development with Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) and Windows Workflow Foundation (WF).

Tools. New technology planned for Visual Studio “10” will make significant strides in end-to-end application life-cycle management through new tools for model-driven design of distributed applications.

OSLO Repository. There will also be investments in aligning the metadata repositories across the Server and Tools product sets. Microsoft System Center “5,” Visual Studio “10” and BizTalk Server “6” will utilize a repository technology for managing, versioning and deploying models.

More information is available here:
There is also a new top level Microsoft SOA site here:

Don Ferguson is (was) an IBM Fellow and Chief Architect of Websphere at IBM.  It was interesting to hear him talking about his hopes for the future, having influenced things so deeply at IBM he is now perhaps in a strong position to influence an ‘architecture of compatibility’ across both camps.  He spoke with enthusiasm about Microsoft’s replication of IBMs reference architecture "Stock Trading" application  (Essentially both the front and back end  parts of both the Java – IBM Websphere version and Microsoft’s MS.Net version being completely interchangeable with only minimal configuration changes).  An impressive example of SOA architecture at its most compelling!

SOA Governance
Excel: Software + Services
Alan Josephson has created custom Office Business Application solutions for clients in the financial, insurance and energy sectors.
Alan talked us through a scenario where an organisation with a high usage of Excel had utilised Excel Services to streamline an existing process which had previously involved the integration of many different workbooks.  Use of ‘XML mapping’ to data from various back end systems was leveraged alongside a custom VSTO  component with management of the spreadsheets through Sharepoint (MOSS).  What was interesting about Alan’s talk was how well he was able to leverage the client application, for instance using a custom tool to interact with back end web services, but also subsequently providing additional processing on the server (using both Excel Services and OpenXML).
Subsequently, and as a direct result of the success of this application the organisation ‘retooled’ to make Enterprise wide use of the platform.
Alan also has an interesting article  “Microsoft Office as a Platform for Software + Services” in the current issue of The Microsoft Architecture Journal.
Visual Studio 2008
Although the official release is next February (alongside Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008) we got "unconfirmed" confirmation that VS2008 is ready for release – and will be available probably sometime towards the end of November! 
Cripes!  Every fourth person in the room has an iPhone!  I have had half a dozen people at the conference ask me how I get on with mine, I’m not an ‘Apple fanboy’ by any means, but this is a very nicea product.  Last Sunday’s release of the one click unlocking hack ( is certainly also a factor. Apple will be selling more phones as a result and I guess AT & T will be losing potential revenue.  The customer gets choice at the end of the day which cannot be a bad thing.
The Big Picture
By now it is clear that OSLO has the potential to become the new ‘business Internet’.  Certainly anyone who is trading B2B on the Internet will be interested in the potential of this technology. 
To a certain extent though, it is very early days and a case of ‘if we build it they will come’ but concerns will surely be around  ‘you can take a horse to water ..’. 
In the end the potential is pretty compelling. To my mind it has the potential to be the next significant business oriented (though not exclusively so) technology to join the Internet, not just a ‘Flash’ or a ‘DHTML’ (not to belittle these great technologies) but more on the grander scale of an HTTP, WWW or XML!!!
Kudos to Microsoft.


3 thoughts on “Microsoft SOA and Business Process Conference

  1. for me, any process that includes using Excel is a process that i’d like to stay far away from! i swear, if i never saw excel again, it wouldn’t be soon enough….. (but that could be 20 years worth of bookkeeping talking!)

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