Q&A: Burley Kawasaki Lays Out Microsoft's Oslo Initiative
At its fifth annual SOA & Business Process Conference this week, Microsoft
laid out from soup to nuts its vision for simplifying the process of designing,
building, deploying and managing composite applications across organizations.
What appears to be at the heart of this vision is a serious commitment by Redmond
to model-driven programming.
This deeper commitment to model-driven programming is part of the Oslo initiative,
a series of technical enhancements made over the next few years that will be
incorporated into several core products. Oslo's technical "innovations"
are also designed to further Microsoft's software-plus-services strategy by
supplying extensions to the application platform to help developers bridge on-premise
and off-premise projects, according to company officials.
Burley Kawasaki, director of Microsoft's Connected Systems Division, sat down
with me to discuss Oslo and its impact on a number of key Microsoft initiatives
Redmond Report: What is Oslo and what are the longer-term strategic goals
Kawasaki: It is essentially the code name for technical
investments we are making that will be delivered across products within our
application platform, including Visual Studio, System Center, BizTalk Server,
BizTalk Services and the .NET Framework. We are making this investment in order
to address some bigger issues. To frame this: It has to do with the clock speed
of business increasing and IT being constrained by a number of long-lasting
boundaries that prevents them from keeping up with business. There are boundaries
between IT and the business because they do not speak the same language or they
just work differently.
There are also boundaries across technologies. We still have the alphabet soup
of protocols and standards, so how do we connect the different platforms that
my applications are built on top of?
Another boundary that is becoming increasingly challenging is how to span across
the Web over organizational boundaries. People want to connect with customers
or suppliers across the firewall or to take advantage of Software as a Service-type
apps. But there are boundaries there that are new in terms of how apps have
to be constructed.
How does Oslo further evolve your existing SOA strategies?
There are two key investment areas with Oslo. First, we continue to
deeply invest in our SOA platform. So with things like BizTalk Server and BizTalk
Services, we really made those the anchor for our SOA investments in order to
make it easier to write services and deploy them, not only across a heterogeneous
enterprise but also stretching to the cloud, which is what BizTalk Services
is targeting. So by deepening investments in both BizTalk Server and Services,
Oslo expands the capabilities of our SOA platform. That is the first big bet
And is there a second big bet?
Yes. The second big bet for Oslo is around model-driven development.
This will be the anchor for a new generation of application development. It
will take model-driven development techniques mainstream and really deliver
a faster clock speed to IT that it needs in order to keep up with the pace of
Microsoft has talked about model-driven programming before. What will
be different this time?
Yes, we have talked about model-driven design for a long time. And the
industry has been pursuing this Holy Grail of...sketching out visually an application
that automatically generates code.
Largely, I would say, this has been unrealized. The first piece that has not
been delivered, I would argue, is these models are only accurate at a very specific
moment in time. They are there when you define the model but then they get out
of synch because there is some type of handoff where the business person prints
it out and hands over the spec to the developer and he has to fill in the gaps.
You are guessing around what was meant. People are always bridging the communications
gap that exists because of the differences between business and IT. So at some
point, the application becomes completely different from what the business side
thought it was.
The second piece is people have pursued this dream of model-driven design in
silos. You typically have all these models in isolation from each other. Your
business analyst might think about how they model requirements or business processes,
but an architect thinks about modeling schemas, services contracts, high-level
designs. An IT professional might have an entirely different set of models around
deployment or health models. And because each of the models is built with different
tools or standards, they are all non-unified. The challenge is, as people bring
all these together into a composite application, the model breaks down. So you
have to have the model not just describe the application, but the model must
become the application. So that is something fundamentally unique that we are
investing heavily in with Oslo.
How and when will Oslo enhancements get incorporated into some core products?
It starts with the .NET Framework version 4, which is the next version.
The framework will continue to enable some of the workflow foundation and communications
foundations types of concepts, which are model-driven today, but you will see
us further enabling model-driven types of behavior on the framework itself.
The framework will then be expanded and built upon by both BizTalk Server version
6 and BizTalk Services version 1, which will be the first commercial version
of our hosted services. BizTalk Server will still be that core foundation for
distributed SOA and BPM types of solutions, but you will see it take on the
ability to develop, manage and deploy composite apps, as well. So you can create
these models to look at what a whole app looks like and be able to run them
and execute them on BizTalk Server. BizTalk Services will do some similar things
but in the cloud. So you can really create these composite apps that span organizational
boundaries. You will see Visual Studio 10 with significant strides in tooling
around apps lifecycle management, specifically around model-driven design and
composition of services and apps together. It provides some of these types of
visualizations and composition techniques that are important, especially for
bridging the business and IT together.
Posted by Ed Scannell on November 01, 2007 at 11:57 AM