Microsoft Combines Groups to Bring Database Development and Modeling Together

Microsoft is realigning its next generation modeling and Web services technology by bringing it together with its data programmability stack.

The company this week revealed it is merging its Data Programmability team (which covers its Entity Data Model, (EDM), Entity Framework, Project Astoria, XML, ADO.NET, and related tools and designers) with its Connected Systems group, which includes its modeling and Web services design teams. One of Connected Systems high profile efforts is Project Oslo, Microsoft's next-generation modeling platform.

The two groups are more deeply aligned, according to Doug Purdy, the Oslo product unit manager for Oslo. Purdy announced the combination of the two groups in a blog posting Monday. Purdy said there is a misconception that Oslo is intended as a services oriented architectures, or SOA, which is no longer the case.

Merging the two is logical, he noted, because metadata generated from Oslo is stored within SQL Server or some other database. "If you look at the Repository, it has always been 'just a SQL Server database' containing application metadata," Purdy wrote. 

Likewise, the "M" modeling language and the Quadrant, intended to provide visual browsing of models, were conceived to make the database simpler to use, Purdy added.
Indeed Oslo has been through a number of changes, Purdy noted.

When Microsoft first revealed Oslo two years ago, the company described it as "a multiyear, multiproduct effort to simplify the application development lifecycle by enhancing .NET, Visual Studio, BizTalk and SQL Server," Purdy recalled.

Purdy lamented that using the name "Oslo" to describe a new version of BizTalk, a new tool, and workflow engine "really confused customers." Subsequently, Oslo was meant to describe the modeling platform components that would be rolled out in the .NET 4 release cycle. Microsoft released a preview of Quadrant in May, as reported.  Look for the Oslo name to be phased out by this November's PDC, he noted.

Combining the two groups made sense, said Ovum analyst Tony Baer. "Oslo was designed for data driven applications," Baer said in an interview. "Aligning more closely to the SQL Server side for them makes sense given where they started from. Oslo was never about SOA. That's not to say you couldn’t use it to develop services, but that wasn't its original prime function in life."

Developers had mixed reactions to the news. Julie Lerman, a .NET developer who is writing a book on the Entity Framework 4, viewed it as a positive move. "When I first saw Oslo I was very excited because it was so clearly the next step in that direction," Lerman said in an email.

"As technologies that are based on modeling, Oslo and EF go together. The merger goes so far beyond that of bringing together all of Connected Systems with the entire storage group shows a much bigger vision. It’s all data, whether it’s a description of a class, an instruction to credit a bank account, or a customer’s mailing address. Now we just have to see the parallels whether it’s being moved around between systems or persisted into a database or other means of storage."

But Jim Wooley, an Atlanta-based MVP and expert on data driven programming technologies, said he wants to hear more. "The details of this merger are fairly sparse at the moment," he said in an email. "I can see how the merger of the modeling components of Oslo fit in with the EDMX and how Oslo's close integration with SQL Server make bringing them closer makes sense. I remain somewhat skeptical as to the over all vision of Oslo, but refrain from making judgments until I see what they have to say at PDC."

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.