Microsoft SOA and Business Process Conference

Top news from the keynote this morning when Microsoft announced a new SOA product/strategy , codename "OSLO".
The vision will start to become reality in the next but one version of current products including Biztalk, Visual Studio, Workflow Foundation and Communication Foundation (ie essentially .NET 4.0).  The recently coined ‘Internet service Bus’ also featured in discussions where Microsoft is promising to host key plumbing and routing services ("BizTalk Services") on the web, reassuringly the services will also be available via third party hosting and for internal hosting (an analogy made was to many ways that Exchange Server can be hosted today).
"Services" and "Modeling" are the two core foundation concepts behind the strategy, with consolidation across Microsoft’s SOA related products also very much a part of the equation (Biztalk will utilize WF and WCF in the future, with current engines also  supported).  We got an early demo of Microsoft’s high level modeling tool, referred to as "The Universal Editor", which aims to provide a single point of reference for all Microsoft’s (and third party partners) future modeling tools. 
Interestingly, having largely abandoned UML and Rational, Microsoft is embracing the concepts behind these with this new strategy.  BPEL was mentioned alongside a modeling language capable of handling SOA concepts and feeding into a new execution engine  – a future version of Biztalk!
Building on the technology available today, the “Oslo” advancements will be delivered through Microsoft server and tools products in five key areas:

Server. Microsoft BizTalk Server “6” will continue to provide a core foundation for distributed and highly scalable SOA and BPM solutions, and deliver the capability to develop, manage and deploy composite applications.

Services. BizTalk Services “1” will offer a commercially supported release of Web-based services enabling hosted composite applications that cross organizational boundaries. This release will include advanced messaging, identity and workflow capabilities.

Framework. The Microsoft .NET Framework “4” release will further enable model-driven development with Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) and Windows Workflow Foundation (WF).

Tools. New technology planned for Visual Studio “10” will make significant strides in end-to-end application life-cycle management through new tools for model-driven design of distributed applications.

OSLO Repository. There will also be investments in aligning the metadata repositories across the Server and Tools product sets. Microsoft System Center “5,” Visual Studio “10” and BizTalk Server “6” will utilize a repository technology for managing, versioning and deploying models.

More information is available here:
There is also a new top level Microsoft SOA site here:

Don Ferguson is (was) an IBM Fellow and Chief Architect of Websphere at IBM.  It was interesting to hear him talking about his hopes for the future, having influenced things so deeply at IBM he is now perhaps in a strong position to influence an ‘architecture of compatibility’ across both camps.  He spoke with enthusiasm about Microsoft’s replication of IBMs reference architecture "Stock Trading" application  (Essentially both the front and back end  parts of both the Java – IBM Websphere version and Microsoft’s MS.Net version being completely interchangeable with only minimal configuration changes).  An impressive example of SOA architecture at its most compelling!

SOA Governance
Excel: Software + Services
Alan Josephson has created custom Office Business Application solutions for clients in the financial, insurance and energy sectors.
Alan talked us through a scenario where an organisation with a high usage of Excel had utilised Excel Services to streamline an existing process which had previously involved the integration of many different workbooks.  Use of ‘XML mapping’ to data from various back end systems was leveraged alongside a custom VSTO  component with management of the spreadsheets through Sharepoint (MOSS).  What was interesting about Alan’s talk was how well he was able to leverage the client application, for instance using a custom tool to interact with back end web services, but also subsequently providing additional processing on the server (using both Excel Services and OpenXML).
Subsequently, and as a direct result of the success of this application the organisation ‘retooled’ to make Enterprise wide use of the platform.
Alan also has an interesting article  “Microsoft Office as a Platform for Software + Services” in the current issue of The Microsoft Architecture Journal.
Visual Studio 2008
Although the official release is next February (alongside Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008) we got "unconfirmed" confirmation that VS2008 is ready for release – and will be available probably sometime towards the end of November! 
Cripes!  Every fourth person in the room has an iPhone!  I have had half a dozen people at the conference ask me how I get on with mine, I’m not an ‘Apple fanboy’ by any means, but this is a very nicea product.  Last Sunday’s release of the one click unlocking hack ( is certainly also a factor. Apple will be selling more phones as a result and I guess AT & T will be losing potential revenue.  The customer gets choice at the end of the day which cannot be a bad thing.
The Big Picture
By now it is clear that OSLO has the potential to become the new ‘business Internet’.  Certainly anyone who is trading B2B on the Internet will be interested in the potential of this technology. 
To a certain extent though, it is very early days and a case of ‘if we build it they will come’ but concerns will surely be around  ‘you can take a horse to water ..’. 
In the end the potential is pretty compelling. To my mind it has the potential to be the next significant business oriented (though not exclusively so) technology to join the Internet, not just a ‘Flash’ or a ‘DHTML’ (not to belittle these great technologies) but more on the grander scale of an HTTP, WWW or XML!!!
Kudos to Microsoft.

Top Gadgets XMAS 2007

Cribbed from – a list of top gadget wants for XMAS 2007:

  • HD-capable flat screen TVs were number one with a bullet among all population subgroups with 35% of mentions. Interestingly, most of those HD sets will not deliver true HD to their owners, as only 2% also intend to get a HD box from their cable or satellite company (ranked at #20 on the list).
  • Apple’s iPhone was ranked #15 overall. The hottest Apple-branded product was a laptop, ranked #11 overall and #9 among women.
  • While no individual Apple product ranked higher than #11 on the wish lists, when combined, Apple-branded technology products make it to the top 5 overall with one-in-six considering purchase, suggesting strong potential holiday season for the company.
  • Men and women had six items in common in the top 10—the rest were unique by gender. Sony PS3 and Xbox 360 were on the top 10 list of men but did not make it to the top 10 list of women. On the other hand, TiVo/DVR and Apple laptops were in the top 10 for women but did not show up on men’s wish lists for the holidays.
  • Laptops were preferred over desktop PCs 2-to-1 among those 18-34. Nintendo Wii, Sony PS3 and Xbox 360 were all on 18-34 lists—Nintendo Wii was the highest ranked console, ranked #8 overall, edging out Sony PS3 which came in at #9. Xbox was ranked #12.
  • Digital cameras are popular across all age groups—ranked #2 or #3 in all age or gender groups.
  • GPS navigation for cars is mainstreaming—it was ranked #5 item among men and #7 among women.

SQLBits 1 day conference Sept 07

Managed to get down to the SQLBits event in Reading last Saturday.
Had a great time & heartilly recomend this event to others.
Took along some of my 9 guys for distribution and one of the organisers (Blowdart) went through a complex distribution process to deliver them to hungry developers:

Flying C9 Guys
Flying C9 Guys

with 4 tracks to choose from it was difficult deciding on my personal agenda for the day.  In the event i went for:

9:30 Transactions and Exception Handling – Eric Allsopp 
Using T-SQL transactions to manage the behaviour of queries is always a balance between data integrity and client concurrency. In order to build high performance, well behaving data logic layers it is important that we understand this topic. In this session we will look at isolation levels (including the row versioning levels), locking and deadlocking. We’ll also look at the exception handling capabilities in 2005 and how they can be used to manage transactions in stored procedures. 

10:50 Identifying Performance Problems with SQL 2005 Profiler – Martin Bell 
How to use Perfmon, Visual Studio Team Edition, SQL Profiler, DTA, Analysing Trace Output and ClearTrace to identify poor performance areas in your system. 

Well there was a time when you could almost rescue a project single handedly by introducing the other members of the team to Perfmon and SQL profiler.  Nowadays most developers are clued up about these tools but it was interesting to hear about some of the other options in this area. 

12:10 77 SQL Server Myths  – Simon Sabin 
Recently the SQL MVPs put together their list of myths about SQL Server. If you think you know everything about SQL then come along and see if you’re right. 

An interesting talk although when every myth was introduced it was immediately obvious that it was indeed a myth (by virtue of its inclusion!) never the less an interesting discussion followed – check out the presentation at!

14:30 Daves Top 10 SQL Keywords  – Dave McMahon 
‘Top of the Pops’ might be dead, but Dave will give you his own countdown of his 10 most useful/favorite SQL keywords. No secrets to giveaway here, suffice to say that you will know some of them (but maybe not used this way) and some may be unfamiliar to you. The whole ‘Countdown’ will be demoed and Dave will explain why they make his top 10. This is a session for people who use SQL regularly as Developers, know the standard DML but maybe never had the chance to peek around the corner to see what else was there! Both SQL 2000 and SQL 2005 syntax will feature, so this is stuff you can take away and use today … 

Dave gave a memorable performance donning wig and cassette player in hand to give us an old fasioned TOTP run down of his top 10 keywords.  check out the presentation at to find out what was no 1!

Unit Testing in SQL Server  – Richard Fennel 
Test driven development is one of the current hot topics in software development, but how far can these principles be applied in the world of SQL? In this session I will look at the principles of TDD and other testing options using both freeware tools and Microsoft’s Visual Studio Datadude. 

Richard is clearly a bit of a testing geek (nothing wrong with that) and was able to effortlessly impart some pearls of wisdom relating to the less well nkown business of unit tresting in SQL Server.  Nice intro to NSQL (nunit clone for T-SQL) and the Visual Studio edition aimed at DBAs ("Data Dude")