I dragged myself to Redmond last night to attend Microsoft’s Fifth annual SOA and Business Process Management (BMP) conference. There are about 1,000 participants. Having watched Microsoft’s strategy evolve over many years, it is important to take a step back and see how the company is positioning its SOA and BMP strategies.
I will write several entries over the next two days to give you some highlights of the meeting and my assessment of what I am hearing.
I was particularly interested in to hear from Don Ferguson, who was considered the father of the WebSphere application server and IBM fellow. Last year he bolted IBM and ended up as a fellow at Microsoft. I met him a few times during his tenure at IBM. He is indeed a very smart and irreverent fellow (the type of folks I enjoy).
So, I going to tell you a little about what Don said. He first directly addressed the questions he has gotten about why he would leave IBM and went to Microsoft. He mentioned that some people thought he might be a double agent (he denies that). Perhaps he felt frustrated at IBM and wanted to see if he could have a bigger impact at Microsoft. He believes that his mission at Microsoft is to help change the world of interoperability with Microsoft through a focus on web services. Being a realist, his goal is to bring Microsoft into the real world of the heterogeneous world that is a mix of IBM, Microsoft, and a bunch of other technologies.
Microsoft is embracing SOA in a serious way that I think will be good for the market. Ferguson makes an important point that the key to SOA is the notion of abstraction. One of the important abstraction notions that Microsoft is embracing is model driven development. Naturally, this isn’t a new concept but it is interesting that modeling seems to be taking center stage in Microsoft’s SOA/BPM strategy. According to Ferguson, the is approach to modeling will be to allow developers as well as business analysts to create and work from a consistent model. Ferguson makes a strong case that, in fact, anyone in business already creates models before executing a business function. The primary difference is that typically these models have been conducted on white boards, documents, and spreadsheets.
This is my first entry about this meeting. During another break I will add more to the discussion of ideas. I would like to close this entry by mentioning two key issues:
1. First, Microsoft states that it will not be designing and announcing its own enterprise service bus but will in fact allow customers to leverage whatever service bus(s) they already have. This sounds the same as HP’s philosphy towards ESBs.
2. Second, the world of technology is based on a federated model (I agree). Given this philosophy, Microsoft is now talking about the Internet Service Bus — a publish/subscribe model for interoperability that leverages existing middleware. This is being offered as part of BizTalk Server and is being offered as a hosted cloud service by Microsoft.
3. Third, Microsoft is making two big bets: a service orientation to creating applications by expanding and exploiting existing technology and providing hosted services via a set of cloud services that act as an integration framework. If customers want, they can move hosted services back to their enterprise. Providing shared models that can go across
4. Fourth, Microsoft is making its entire plaform model driven that is backed up by a SQlServer based repository. This becomes a general purpose modeling platform with a set of tooling.
The message is still high level. Still a lot more questions than answers. But I’ll write more as I learn more.