Microsoft last week took the wraps off an initiative that it hopes will expand the use of model-driven design techniques and ease the process of developing composite applications within a service-oriented architecture (SOA).
The company described the initiative, code-named Oslo, as its software development "vision" and "road map." Oslo was unveiled at Microsoft's SOA and Business Process Conference in Redmond, Wash.
Steven Martin, director of product management in Microsoft's connected-systems division, described Oslo as "an effort to unify pieces of the application platform and take model-driven development mainstream. Models need to not just replicate the application; they need to be the application."
He noted that the initiative aims to dramatically improve on current modeling techniques, which only provide a limited view of models at different points in the development life cycle. "It only describes what the application might have looked like at one point in time. [It is] never up to date -- not holistic," Martin said.
To that end, he said that as part of Oslo, Microsoft plans to upgrade and integrate the metadata repositories in the next versions of its System Center management software, Visual Studio development tools and BizTalk business process management offerings. The integrated repositories could be used for managing, versioning and deploying models of composite applications, Martin said.
Microsoft said the Oslo project will also lead to new features in BizTalk Server, Visual Studio, System Center and the .Net Framework. Beta versions of tools containing Oslo-initiated updates will be available in 2008, Martin said.
Massimo Pezzini, an analyst at Gartner, said that Oslo is part of a Microsoft effort to catch up to Oracle, BEA Systems and IBM in critical SOA-required components such as workflow technologies, business process management tools, and registries and repositories.
Still, Microsoft is raising the bar by creating an integrated metadata repository for the entire life cycle of a model-driven application, he added.
Nonetheless, Pezzini predicted that Microsoft is still 12 to 24 months away from delivering technologies borne from the Oslo project, which he called "more a vision than a concrete deliverable."