Ozzie: Imagine the possibilities..

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2008-03-10 Print this article Print

I'm not so sure about that. I'm betting Microsoft's strategy takes into account that there will be a mixture of meshes.

Meanwhile, Peter Coffee, director of platform research at Salesforce.com, breaks the notion of a mesh down even further.

"From what I've seen so far, the agenda behind the 'mesh' seems to boil down to 'standards-based maximization of complexity,'" Coffee said. "'Mesh' appears to be, as of now, a one-syllable word for a scavenger hunt across all the devices you own or share, looking for the piece of state-the particular item of data, or the logic that implements a particular function-that you need at any given moment."

Moreover, said Coffee: "A 'mesh' appears to imply a whole bunch of code that strives to minimize the labor involved in tracking down what the user wants. This encourages the user to continue storing data and logic on the desktop, the laptop, the smart phone, and the enterprise network server. To the extent that any technology provider can take the lead in making this look [relatively] easy, that provider can hold the role of first among equals."

To hone in even more closely, Coffee, without ever mentioning Microsoft, added: "A tech provider with massive resources remains more relevant in a world that's built around a massive problem."

Ozzie also exhorted the MIX audience to "just imagine the possibilities enabled by centralized configuration and personalization and remote control of all your devices from just about anywhere. Just imagine the convenience of unified data management, the transparent synchronization of files, folders, documents, and media. The bi-directional synchronization of arbitrary feeds of all kinds across your devices and the Web, a kind of universal file synch."

One effort Microsoft has going in that direction is its Microsoft Sync Framework. At MIX, Neil Padgett, program manager for the Sync Framework, gave an update of the technology.

Padgett said the Microsoft Sync Framework is currently on Community Technology Preview 2 and is expected to ship in the third quarter of 2008.

Liam Cavanagh, a program manager for the Microsoft Sync Framework, said that "it doesn't matter what the data store is." But the Sync Framework is "a set of APIs that you can embed that take away all the complexities of synchronization."

Cavanagh said Microsoft has a protocol built into the Sync Framework known as FeedSync, an extension to RSS and ATOM. FeedSync, which was designed by Ozzie, enables such scenarios as collaboration over the Web using synchronized feeds, roaming data to multiple client devices, and publishing reference data and updates in an open format that can be synchronized easily, Padgett said.

The Microsoft Sync Framework and FeedSync are critical to Microsoft's software plus services strategy as well as to its overall "mesh" strategy.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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