on SOA, open standards, open source, and other nonsense

I read a blog post by Loraine Lawson that she titled “Biz Talk Server R2 Offers Peek at Microsoft’s SOA Strategy”. I found a bunch of things in that post disconcerting. Thought I’d respond a little here, not directly to the blog in detail, but more generally about SOA.

  • SOA does not “demand open source” as the blog post asserts. Many pundits in the industry, whether purposefully or not, equate or conflate “open source” with “open standards”. At the risk of stating the obvious, they are not the same. We at Microsoft believe that one key driver of success for SOA is a set of open communications standards – ranging from IP, to HTTP, XML, SOAP, WS-*, RSS, JSON, ATOM and so on. Effective SOA means interconnecting disparate systems, and that does require communications protocol standards. It does not require open source. Can a .NET system interconnect with a appplication running on IBM WebSphere Application Server? Yes. Any open source there? Nope. Can a .NET system interconnect with a PHP app via RSS? Yes! Any open source there? Yes. But, the fact that open source is used, is irrelevant.  As I have said many times before, It’s the protocols, silly!

  • Open standards of course are not enough. Also required is a set of infrastructure that can harness the potential of those standards, so that developers can interconnect disparate applications using those standards, so that IT can manage, provision, and govern systems that employ those standards and so on.What’s required is commercial-grade infrastructure in the form of tools, process servers, management suites, development frameworks, registries, and user interface technologies. User interface in a SOA? Absolutely. After all, in the end we want a person to actually see and act on the information that is swirling around within a SOA. We believe as many analysts do (see IDC and Dataquest) that there will be a broad expansion in the market for SOA infrastructure. Some of that infrastructure will be provided in open-source form. For our part, Microsoft is delivering, and will continue to deliver tools, servers, and other infrastructure that enables companies to exploit the advantages available within SOA approaches, as well as architectural guidance and training for how to effectively apply SOA in customer environments.

  • Some uninformed critics say Microsoft’s SOA infrastructure works only in a “Windows only” or “Windows everywhere” approach. This view doesn’t hold water. As I have said previously, if the claim is that the Microsoft SOA software, like BizTalk Server, Host Integration Server, Visual Studio, SQL Server and so on – runs only on Windows, then this is TRUE. This is not a particularly novel, interesting or relevant observation. Customers don’t demand that their SOA infrastructure run on a particular operating system; They demand that their SOA infrastructure connects readily, and delivers good value. If these people want to imply, that because BizTalk Server (as one example) runs only on Windows, then it can connect only to other Windows-based systems or applications, they are either mis-informed or they are attempting to mislead you. Ninety-two percent of the over 7,000 BizTalk Server customers use the technology to connect with assets on UNIX, Linux and mainframe based systems. Many Microsoft customers connect to SQL Server – running on Windows mind you! – from applications running on iSeries, Linux or Unix. Microsoft has long offered a technology that does nothing but integrate with IBM’s iSeries and zSeries technologies. (it accomplishes this via IBM’s proprietary protocols, which Microsoft must license).  Windows Communication Foundation implements more WS-* standards than any other commercially-available framework, at this time, as far as I am aware.  This means WCF connects to disparate heterogeneous systems via standard protocols. “Windows only” is blind ignorance or spin, and either way it is just wrong.


Comments (3)

  1. I’m glad you’re responding.

    Just one point of clarification, I did not confuse open source with open standards. I’m talking about both the open source community and open standards, so I can see why people might miss that. What it actually says is:

    "I think what’s confusing matters is Microsoft’s inability, thus far, to reconcile SOA’s demands for open code and standards with a business model that’s thrived on proprietary solutions."

    Point taken about the open source code, however. Just wanted to point out I’m not a total doofus.

  2. cheeso says:

    Hey Loraine, Thanks for the comment and clarification.

  3. If SOA didnt embrace all these anti-microsoft "standards", maybe we’d have a use for it.

    We will stick with our pure Microsoft WAN, our customers and employees running flawlessly on Vista and TouchFlo 3D(despite what justin long says) and moving forward with Dynamics ERP and Hyper-V.

    Not one unix box in the shop, unless you consider the 20 excellent Leopards running flawlessly in the graphics dept.

    Other than some apps on the macs, We have no open source, as far as I know.

    All our apps are 32 or 64 bit Microsoft logo compliant. Haven’t seen a blue screen since 1999. Do they still use blue?

    We will stick with Microsoft standards, thank you.