Today is the first day of the Microsoft SOA & Business Process Conference 2007 and they have decided to start it with a bang.  This morning Microsoft has come clean with a great deal of detail regarding a new project code-named Oslo.  Oslo is not a product, but rather an over-arching project which will contain within it updates to many products and services including BizTalk Server, Visual Studio, and more. 

What does Oslo contain?

Oslo is going to invest heavily into 5 major areas, specifically:

  • .NET Framework : Major investments into Model-Driven Development surfaced through WCF and WF.  These changes will manifest in the .NET Framework vNext (presumably the .NET Framework 4.0 but we all know about Microsoft's marketing division and .NET Framework versioning).
  • BizTalk Services : These services currently available in a test form will reach full commercial implementation.  If you've not had a chance yet to look at these previews, now is the time because they are definitely a major part of the future vision.
  • Visual Studio : Two things, one great, another I could live without, are going to happen to Visual Studio.  The great part is that Model-Driven Development will get "deep support", and will focus on delivering composite applications.  The part I could live without is that there is talk about Rosario (vNext of Team System) supporting "greater roles" ... and as we all know, more roles means yet more sub-divided SKUs for Visual Studio.
  • Repository : Incredible as it may seem, Microsoft has caught onto the clue-train of Metadata repositories and will be investing in System Center, Visual Studio and BizTalk Server to make them all talk to a common repository.  This is great news, and will help close some of the overall SOA gaps.
  • BizTalk Server "6" : The vNext of BizTalk Server will expand the integration with both WCF and WF.  What does that mean?  Details are few right now, but it will probably mean two things. 
    • First the XLANG/s Orchestration engine is going to be deprecated and a new Windows Workflow Foundation engine will be introduced.
    • Second the existing adapter framework will also be deprecated (which it essentially is in R2) and Windows Communication Foundation will be used for all future adapter development.
      • An interesting part of this is the word that BizTalk will likely support the WS-Eventing protocol and a full Publish-Subscribe routing model.  As I'm sure I'd be reminded by Sam Gentile, Neudesic already has a publish-subscribe product today.

 

Sounds cool ... when can I get some?

Short answer is 2009 or later.  As with most Microsoft dates this far out I'd bet on later.  There is nothing here which is remotely CTP or Alpha yet, this is a lot of vision from the Connected Systems Division about where they are headed.  Key thing to remember is we are talking about technology built on a version of the .NET Framework after 3.5, which won't release for a few weeks yet itself.  Still it is good to know where Microsoft's head is at officially on these things.

Bottom Line

Taken as a whole, there is only one part of this which is really huge, and that is the Repository announcement.  That Microsoft is investing in a solid metadata repository, that they get the reasons for this, and that they are attacking a complete vertical slices in System Center (runtime management), Visual Studio (design time), and BizTalk Server (runtime environment/host).

The other thing we should be ready for is that "BizTalk" is now a generic term like "SQL Server".  Just like how "SQL Server" is slapped on everything (Reporting Services, Service Broker, Notification Services, Express editions, etc) we can expect that the "BizTalk" brand will start appearing on more and more things.  There were signs of this already with the "BizTalk Adapter Pack" which in fact have no BizTalk dependency and are in fact simply WCF adapters.

Takeaways

  • If you are a BizTalk developer and you don't know WCF and WF well already, go learn them right away and in that order.
  • Spend some time learning about metadata repositories from the competitors in the market (IBM for instance) so you'll understand what the fuss is about here.
  • Software + Services : Microsoft has been promising this is their direction for some time now, and it appears BizTalk Services may be one of the first actual set of services to reach a full commercial release.

The official announcement session is about to start here at the conference, I'll follow up with more posts if they hit on anything not covered here already.