Santosh Benjamin's Weblog

Adventures with AppFabric, BizTalk & Clouds

Oslo – Its about time

with 2 comments


Wow!! finally something huge to look forward to. Just got alerted to the Oslo announcement at the SOA BPM conference and theres good details on blogs from Tim Rayburn and Charles Young. Looks like factories will make their way into the Biztalk space and not only that, theres even a full blown repository.

Gosh, I wish i could have been in Seattle. It must have been really exciting to hear it first hand. I applied for a British passport over a month ago and the Home Office has my current Indian one as well so im stuck. I really wanted to go to Seattle this time and even opted for that conference instead of TechEd. Hope the passport arrives in time for me to go to India for my hols at the end of November.

Well, anyway, the poor cousin of the Seattle SOA/BPM conference is being held at Reading, UK for a day on Nov 14th. Its only one day, which is rather sad. Maybe next year they will have something longer. I will definitely make it for that. I guess they will be talking about Oslo at that event as well.

Anyway, as i have posted on many previous occasions, factories and biztalk development are made for each other and it was rather suprising that we didnt have anything on that front all this time. But according to Tim’s post 2009 is the earliest date when we can see anything. In the meantime i guess we can all continue plugging away at tools, utilities, maybe even little factories to help with biztalk development at least for a small audience. This announcement definitely validates the approach..

I recently read about the SOA World Readers Choice Awards for BPM Servers and was suprised to find not even a single mention of Microsoft in that. There was a complete Java bias. Hey, even Oracle got a mention and having used some of their stuff a while ago, i couldnt resist a snigger. Perhaps the acquisition of Collaxa and re-branding it as their BPEL server did the trick. I was impressed with some of the functionality of the BPEL Server after having read the BPEL CookBook which was more or less an Oracle advertisement, but IMO Biztalk compared quite favorably in the areas covered in that book. By the way, the book is still a decent read. Many Biztalk developers are rather comfortably cocooned in a world of Biztalk and all things MS alone and its really cool to learn how other products handle the same kinds of tasks. After all BPM servers are pretty much standardised now in terms of the platform services, features etc, so its mostly the tooling that differentiates them.

I also read some other research articles (quite a while ago) into how flimsy some of those products are, requiring “sticky tape” code in various flavors (xml, javascript, java) all over the place to get a solution developed and one would think that the more consistent story with Biztalk would have helped gather at least a mention, but it didnt.  You could interpret this in two ways. Either its just a Java bias which isnt surprising in this space (and no fault of the magazine either. I subscribe to that so i know it has fair coverage of all things SOA) or that Biztalk has a long way to go to become really user friendly and easy to develop with.

Integration will never be trivial, but rich, deep tooling can certainly help simplify some of the challenges in this field. It is rather ironic, that MS is usually recognised for GUIs but in this case, there isnt much to boast about. Its also worth noting that some of those awards were for a “Web Services development platform” which we dont have. Biztalk isnt such a platform. The closest match could be the Service Factory Modelling edition, but that isnt a full fledged product either.

I realize that for Biztalk, the internal integration with WCF, WF etc is, in the long term, much more valuable than just a flashy GUI, but hey, theres a lot of people out there who arent going so deep (and may not ever require the power of a WCF based communications stack ) and they want a tool they can rapidly get up to speed with. The learning curve for ol Biztalk is still pretty steep.

Anyway, If MS can deliver on Oslo, it would beat the pants off any of their competitors. The Readers Choice awards may still ignore Biztalk, even in 2010  (wonder if it will still be called Biztalk then!!), but, at that point, who cares? Go CSD!!!

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Written by santoshbenjamin

October 30, 2007 at 10:50 PM

Posted in Architecture, BizTalk, Factories

Tagged with , , ,

2 Responses

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  1. […] Biztalk more into the SOA space from being an integration server. As i mentioned in my earlier post about the SOA competitive landscape and no mention about Biztalk in the rankings,theres a lot of […]

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    September 17, 2012 at 11:54 AM


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