Microsoft Unveils SOA Strategy

Loraine Lawson

If you've been wondering where Microsoft stands on SOA, there's no need to wonder. Microsoft outlined precisely its SOA strategy this week at its fifth SOA and Business Process Management (BMP) conference.

And, fittingly enough, the star of the show was Don Ferguson, according to this account by Judith Hurwitz, the CEO of Hurwitz & Associates, who attended the event.

Ferguson made headlines last year after leaving IBM, where he held a coveted IBM fellow position and was renowned for his work on the WebSphere application server.

Now he's a Microsoft fellow, and a big part of his work has been helping Microsoft figure out how to offer interoperability in heterogeneous IT divisions, or what some might call the "real world."

Hurwitz apparently liked what she heard from Microsoft about its SOA strategy and discusses what she sees as four key issues in Microsoft's SOA strategy announcement.

In particular, she seemed to approve of Microsoft's plans to make modeling and model-driven development a major component of its SOA/BPM strategy -- a move that could help developers and business users get on the same page.

This plan is code-named Oslo, according to an e-Week report, which focused its coverage on this aspect of Microsoft's SOA strategy, as well as related SOA offerings from partners. Computerworld also looks at Project Oslo, but focuses more on how it fits in with Microsoft's software-as-a-service strategy.

Microsoft has not had an easy time with SOA, at least when it comes to the analysts and trade press. From questions such as "Does Microsoft get SOA" to claims it's trying to make a proprietary SOA solution, the company's taken a bit of a beating.

But then again, when you're as big as Microsoft, you can take a few hard hits in the ring and still come out a champ.

Coinciding with the conference, Microsoft also relaunched its SOA website. The Microsoft employee blog, All About Interop, posted about the redesign and acknowledged that Microsoft has dropped the ball on communicating about SOA as a business-enabler.

In the past, the post notes, Microsoft focused too much on the technology, but the company now promises to do a better job of communicating Microsoft's SOA strategy to customers.

Better late than never, I suppose.

How will Microsoft support SOA? vnunet and Network Computing report Microsoft will take the following steps:

  • BizTalk Server 6 will have SOA functionality and development tools for non-developers.
  • Microsoft will add SOA support to .Net Framework 4, which, according to Network Computing, will be an interpreter or runtime environment for the new model-based applications.
  • The Visual Studio .NET 10 developer tool will include application life-cycle management and modeling features. Network Computing notes that Microsoft claims its internal developers have been able to do 90 percent less coding using this tool.
  • Microsoft plans to align metadata repositories across its middleware products.
  • Microsoft will offer a SOA-as-a-service solution, called BizTalk Services 1.

Of course, there are already criticisms of Microsoft's approach to SOA. Ron Schmeltzer, a senior analyst with Zapthink, took issue with Microsoft's use of closed standards and proprietary interfaces, saying it ignored the fundamentals of SOA. He told vnunet:

They are not playing ball with anybody else playing the SOA game. The core Microsoft customer base will be excited. For them it's a strong step forward. But enterprise architects with a heterogeneous architecture will say: 'I'll wait until it's open standards based.'

I suspect this rash of articles and commentaries are only a small starter sampler of what will be published on Project Oslo and Microsoft's SOA strategy. Stay tuned...

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Oct 31, 2007 12:15 PM Joe Joe  says:
Microsoft has been providing tools to enable SOA for companies before the term was even climbing the hype cycle. This is their 5th annual conference on the subject. So, there is a fair amount of history that could be reviewed.The MS jabs included in Lawson's article add little that's actually newsworthy or technically informative about the topic and seem like tired journalistic filler to me. Reply
Nov 1, 2007 8:58 AM Loraine Lawson Loraine Lawson  says:
True. It is their fifth conference. But I'm not taking jabs - I'm telling you what they did and what they said. It is strange that, given how long they've been involved in SOA, they felt a need to announce a new project, new products with clear SOA and an SOA strategy. It's also strange how everyone's covering it.Obviously, they've been doing SOA internally and in products. But they haven't presented that as a business strategy, per se. In other words, it seems to me - and I don't think I'm alone in this - that Microsoft has viewed SOA as useful for Microsoft and not about how other companies could deploy the same architecture. So, yes, Microsoft's used SOA. But they haven't really provided guidance on how others could benefit from it and use their products to deploy it. Sorry if it was unclear, but that's the news here. Reply

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