Empowering the Masses with Oslo

Modeling techniques in Microsoft's multi-year "Oslo" strategy will enable the masses to do simple programming

REDMOND, Wash.—Microsoft says it wants to increase the number of people who use model-driven development by a factor of 10.

In a keynote speech at the companys fifth annual SOA & Business Process Conference here, Donald Ferguson, a chief architect of Microsofts effort to simplify and extend the use of model-driven development, said he believes that Microsoft is suited to enabling more than 10 times more people to use modeling in just a couple of years than use modeling today.

Modeling is a key component of Microsofts new "Oslo" strategy. As part of Oslo, Microsoft will work to deliver a unified platform integrating services and modeling, moving from a world where models describe the application to a world where models are the application.

Robert Wahbe, a Microsoft corporate vice president, who followed Ferguson in the opening keynote, said, "Were making model-driven development a key part of our strategy."

"Our opinion is not that people are not doing modeling today; the problem is it exists in silos," Wahbe added.


Click here to read more about Microsofts "Oslo" and model-driven development.

However, Microsoft is committed to delivering "an open modeling platform," Wahbe said.

Yet, most of the technology to deliver this is not available today, Microsoft officials said. It is all in upcoming technology that will begin to appear over the next year or two, the company said. "Youll start to see some broad Community Technology Previews beginning next year," Wahbe said.

However, Microsoft does offer technology for users who want to begin implementing SOAs now.

Steven Martin, director of product management for Microsofts Connected Systems Division, said to get started now, Microsoft offers a bundle of BizTalk Server 2006 R2, SharePoint Server, Visual Studio Team System and SQL Server, known as the SOA and BizTalk Process Pack.

Martin said these are the Microsoft technologies that are most important for SOA (service oriented architecture) and are offered at a discount if purchased as a bundle. Microsoft also offers prescriptive guidance relating to its ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) and SOA development and deployment, Martin said.

Meanwhile, Wahbe said some of the challenges that have to be overcome and that Oslo will help with include: integrating business and IT; improving the software development lifecycle; integrating with existing applications ad services; interoperating across heterogeneous platforms; connecting across the firewall boundary; deploying flexibly across software and services; managing the explosion of services; and adopting and evolving applications.


Click here to read more about a company that is taking a model-driven approach to writing database provisioning scripts.

Ferguson, who came to Microsoft from IBM, where he was known as the "Father of WebSphere" and who served as the chief architect of the IBM Software Group, said he came to Microsoft because he believed the company had the best opportunity to implement his vision of enabling more of "the masses" to use model-driven development.

Ferguson said tools talk to users in infrastructure terms, but they need to be simpler to use. So the two things he wanted to do next in his career were to make model-driven development more accessible and to enable the creation of an Internet Service Bus.

He said people capture models today with whiteboards, cell phone cameras and other things and then move them to tools like Visio and Microsoft Word. Ferguson said he wants to enable those same people to take things a step further to be able to do modeling with simple tools from Microsoft.

"Id like to see that happen some time in the next couple of years," he said, noting that he believes his friends and family will be able to use the technology.

"What we need is the ability for small IT programming groups to be able to model and execute things," Ferguson said.

He said the move to more of the masses doing modeling "does not replace the need for programmers, but it widens out the aperture" of people who can do things to reduce the backlog of applications in IT departments and the enterprise.


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