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November 11, 2007

Microsoft: embracing the model-driven approach

Microsoft has long derided the use of unified modeling language as over-complex. The company has always been a supporter of the integrated layers of the technology stack rather than the loosely-coupled vision of service-oriented architecture, but this now appears to be less constrictive than it was with the company's new Oslo offering.

By CBR Staff Writer

Microsoft has announced its new service-oriented architecture vision, codenamed Oslo.

Despite some skepticism in the marketplace that Oslo is just a reworking of the dynamic IT concept that Microsoft started promoting earlier this year, it is clear that Oslo is a radical departure from the design paradigms of the past. Central to the message (no pun intended) is the inclusion of a Microsoft-hosted internet service bus, which is designed to link internal and external data sources without programming. This cross-firewall model is central to any move into the service-oriented architecture (SOA) space. This model will be supported in future versions of BizTalk server.

As far as a model-driven architectural approach is concerned, this will become a standard feature of core elements of Microsoft technology; including Visual Studio Team system, BizTalk Server, the .Net Framework, and System Center. Although the plans are in place, execution may be some time off, and it is unlikely that the end-user community will see these new implementations much before 2010 (2009 is being mooted as a release timeframe).

One aspect of Oslo that might create a stir is the inclusion of an integrated metadata repository through which the model-driven application lifecycle can be managed. Having this as part of the integrated infrastructure will allow a common metadata-model approach to be more easily instantiated.

Although this is clearly a positive move from Microsoft, to opt to play the game by everybody else’s rules, it begs the question of timing. Although Microsoft would deny that it is playing ‘catch-up’ with its major competitors in the SOA space, this is not the overall perception out in the real world, where Oracle, BEA Systems, IBM et al have been seen as prime movers within SOA. Regardless of the accuracy of such beliefs, it is imperative that Microsoft is seen to be moving away from the technology design model utilizing the integrated stack towards the more fluent model-driven approach.

Source: OpinionWire by Butler Group (www.butlergroup.com)

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