Inside the Microsoft Interop Lab

Microsoft is looking to play well with others in the Web services sandbox.

REDMOND, Wash.—Microsoft has an interoperability play around Web services, and it's taking shape in a lab here on the software maker's campus.

Greg Leake, Microsoft's technical marketing manager for .Net, has set up what he calls the ".Net Framework/Application Server Lab" to test interoperability between .Net-based applications and applications written in Java and running on Linux and other platforms.

"We built the lab so we could show improved interoperability over Web services," Leake told eWEEK during a tour of the lab.

He said the over-arching interoperability play is key to Microsoft's newly broad-ranging service-oriented architecture strategy known as "Oslo."

The lab consists of multiple rows of servers and older low-cost PCs used as "users" to make transactions against various applications being tested. Leake also uses automated software to simulate the impact of adding more and more users, up to 10,000, to an application's user base. Leaks said he is using Hewlett-Packard's Mercury LoadRunner, among other tools, to load test the applications.


The primary application run in the lab is Microsoft's .Net StockTrader, which the software giant used to test the performance of a .Net-based application against a Java-based application from IBM.

Microsoft used .Net StockTrader to show that .Net and WFC (Windows Communication Foundation), along with Windows Server 2003, could compete against—and interoperate with—Java-based transaction processing applications, Leake said.

The benchmark compares .Net StockTrader against IBM's Trade 6.1 performance application. Trade 6.1 is a J2EE (Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition)-based application IBM uses as a best-practice performance sample application and capacity testing tool for IBM WebSphere 6.1.


To read more about "Oslo", click here.

Microsoft published initial results on the stock trader application in July, but the company is about to release a refresh of the application in the next few weeks, which should improve both performance and interoperability, Leake said.

The refresh will feature Windows Server 2008 Release Candidate 0 as its core operating system and the .Net Framework 3.5, both of which are upcoming versions of the respective technologies.


The .Net Framework 3.5 has a number of upgrades to the .Net framework 3.0, including support for "partial trust" programming. Applications that run with anything less than the full set of permissions are said to be running with partial trust. Many Web applications require partial trust as a security mechanism, Leake said.

In addition to new security options, the .Net Framework 3.5 also adds tools support from Visual Studio 2008 including graphical designers and upgrades to support Windows Server 2008.

Leake had to learn the Linux and Java environments, and books on his workspace in the lab attest to that, including tomes on Red Hat Linux, J2EE and Oracle database.

He has been able to show a Microsoft ASP.Net Web client talking to the WebSphere middle tier, and vice versa.

"We can mix and match these services," Leake said. "We have bi-directional, seamless interoperability with no code changes."

"In general, Microsoft gets Web services," said Ron Schmelzer, an analyst with ZapThink. "They have long been champions of the WS-* specs, so it's no surprise that they support them."


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