When building applications today, it’s hard to consider building something that doesn’t involve connectivity of some sort. Applications require business data and logic that is distributed across several applications or servers. Unfortunately, not all systems provide the same interface to their data and business logic which ultimately forces developers to figure out how to talk to each of those systems. Connecting to a system doesn’t just involve opening up a port on a network address either; we have to work with different message formats, varying security mechanisms, and in many cases custom libraries that rely on proprietary mechanisms. In the end, it’s common for developers to struggle with learning a variety of different programming interfaces, communication protocols, and messaging semantics.
Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) promises to change all of that. WCF provides a unified programming model for building distributed applications using the .NET Framework. WCF was designed to provide a single unified programming model for writing either clients or services while also providing a flexible framework for different styles of communication on the wire. This approach allows developers to focus on writing code in their business domain rather than on learning new networking interfaces or object models. The code you write with WCF always looks the same but you can configure your apps to use different transport protocols like TCP, HTTP, and MSMQ; different message encodings like XML, MTOM, and binary; and varied security options including certificates, passwords, and security tokens.
The goals addressed by WCF are also very similar to the integration goals of Microsoft® BizTalk® Server. Ultimately BizTalk Server is primarily focused on providing an easy-to-manage model for connecting disparate, heterogeneous systems using a variety of different protocols, message formats and security mechanisms without requiring much, if any, code. The WCF LOB Adapter SDK and the BizTalk Adapter Pack whitepaper discusses how the worlds of WCF and BizTalk Server 2006 are fully converging through the WCF LOB Adapter SDK and the BizTalk Adapter Pack.