Microsoft today began previewing modules of a platform for composite application development, which includes support for service-oriented architecture, Web 2.0 and RESTful projects.
The company is offering new versions of Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) and Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) as part of the previously announced .NET Framework 4.0 release. It is also introducing a set of enhanced Windows Server capabilities codenamed "Dublin" that is designed to provide greater scalability and easier manageability for component apps.
The new platform is needed for composite apps because the tools for standard Web applications and traditional monolithic applications did not deal well with the complex interaction of multiple services from multiple sources in SOA implementations, said Burley Kawasaki, director of Microsoft's connected systems division.
"Composite applications create new challenges and new requirements because IT doesn't necessarily have the same tools and capabilities that they have for more traditional apps," Kawasaki said.
John Rymer, analyst with Forrester Research, said Microsoft is attempting to deal with the issue of services-oriented complexity by building a new platform.
"This is the first release of a pretty ambitious overall technology program that's going to hopefully simplify the creation and management of applications," Rymer said. "The fundamental issue is complexity. It's so complex to build and manage these SOA applications."
The Forrester analyst said that what is notable about the Microsoft approach is the way it is working to deal with complexity through modeling as well as refining WCF.
Microsoft's Kawasaki said the modeling approach to SOA, which is codenamed Oslo, is now better defined than when it was first announced earlier this year.
"Sometimes we were broad and sweeping when we talked about Oslo and people's heads exploded trying to figure out what it meant," Kawasaki said.
Oslo is now defined as the core modeling platform, which Kawasaki said consisted of three modules: the repository for storing models; the declarative language to define the import and export models out of the repository, and then it's the new set of modeling tools that allows developers to compose and assemble disparate models together to create an application.
Rymer said Oracle and IBM are also working on tools to better handle the complexity of SOA application development and management, but Microsoft's approach is different.
Rymer said the other major software vendors including IBM and Oracle are working on the same problem but doing it by add technology to their core platforms, WebSphere and WebLogic respectively, where Microsoft is developing a new platform.
"Microsoft is stepping up with a new platform," Rymer said. "With IBM and Oracle what we tend to see is they are creating new products. The IBM WebSphere business fabric, for example, is meant to simplify the development of SOA applications. But it's not the core platform. It's more an add-on."
"What Microsoft is doing is reexamining the core platform, the core runtime and the tools to deal with SOA complexity."