Microsoft Courting OMG Again

Company may seek to tap group's expertise.

After years of bitter battles with the Object Management Group, Microsoft Corp. may be poised to rejoin the consortium to make use of the OMGs architecture expertise.

Unisys Corp. has been brokering a thaw in the relationship between Microsoft and the Needham, Mass., standards body that had become strained while Microsoft was still a member of the group, said sources. The two sides effectively parted ways in the late 1990s over the OMGs support for Common Object Request Broker Architecture, which competed with Microsofts Component Object Model for a standard distributed computing model.

Sources said Microsoft is now warming up to the OMG because the Redmond, Wash., company is delving more into modeling and architecture work, two areas where the OMG holds key specifications and expertise—in UML (Unified Modeling Language) and MDA (Model Driven Architecture). Microsoft has sponsored two four-day OMG Web services workshops this year, one in Munich, Germany, and one last month in Philadelphia, where Microsoft representatives gave presentations on services-oriented architectures and MDA issues. Unisys, a member of the OMG and a tight Microsoft integration partner, jointly presented with Microsoft. Their presentation was titled "Microsoft Jupiter and the Unisys MDA Process."

"Ultimately, Microsoft needs MDA to simply make .Net easier," said Grover Righter, vice president of technical strategy at Kabira Technologies Inc., a San Rafael, Calif., provider of infrastructure software and frameworks for network services and other environments. "It is a much-needed investment—not just philosophically but also as a protection against having older [third-generation languages] hold back .Net."

On the Table

  • MDA Enables developers to create applications visually from models, similar to CAD tools
  • UML Enables developers to specify, visualize and document models of software systems
Microsoft supports UML today in its Visual Studio .Net Enterprise Architect edition, and sources said Microsoft plans to support MDA in Jupiter, the code name for its upcoming e-business suite and collaboration portal software.

Another source close to Microsoft said the company is becoming more interested in model architectures because of the growing complexity in enterprise systems.

The warming toward models and the OMG does not signal a total burying of the hatchet between the organizations. For instance, sources said Microsoft does not agree with everything the OMG does with MDA, such as automatic code generation.

OMG CEO Richard Soley would not comment on whether Microsoft will be rejoining the consortium but said the OMG will welcome the company as a member. Microsofts membership officially lapsed last year.

"Its not a matter of who likes who; its a matter of what gets the job done," said Soley. "Microsoft, as one of the most important vendors in the IT industry, understands the value of interoperability and working together in open-standards organizations, and they would be a most welcome member."

Microsoft officials did not respond to requests for comment by press time.