Q&A: Burley Kawasaki Lays Out Microsoft's Oslo Initiative
At its fifth annual SOA & Business Process Conference this week, Microsoft
laid out from soup to nuts its vision for simplifying the process of designing,
building, deploying and managing composite applications across organizations.
What appears to be at the heart of this vision is a serious commitment by Redmond
to model-driven programming.
This deeper commitment to model-driven programming is part of the Oslo initiative,
a series of technical enhancements made over the next few years that will be
incorporated into several core products. Oslo's technical "innovations"
are also designed to further Microsoft's software-plus-services strategy by
supplying extensions to the application platform to help developers bridge on-premise
and off-premise projects, according to company officials.
Burley Kawasaki, director of Microsoft's Connected Systems Division, sat down
with me to discuss Oslo and its impact on a number of key Microsoft initiatives
Redmond Report: What is Oslo and what are the longer-term strategic goals
Kawasaki: It is essentially the code name for technical
investments we are making that will be delivered across products within our
application platform, including Visual Studio, System Center, BizTalk Server,
BizTalk Services and the .NET Framework. We are making this investment in order
to address some bigger issues. To frame this: It has to do with the clock speed
of business increasing and IT being constrained by a number of long-lasting
boundaries that prevents them from keeping up with business. There are boundaries
between IT and the business because they do not speak the same language or they
just work differently.
There are also boundaries across technologies. We still have the alphabet soup
of protocols and standards, so how do we connect the different platforms that
my applications are built on top of?
Another boundary that is becoming increasingly challenging is how to span across
the Web over organizational boundaries. People want to connect with customers
or suppliers across the firewall or to take advantage of Software as a Service-type
apps. But there are boundaries there that are new in terms of how apps have
to be constructed.
How does Oslo further evolve your existing SOA strategies?
There are two key investment areas with Oslo. First, we continue to
deeply invest in our SOA platform. So with things like BizTalk Server and BizTalk
Services, we really made those the anchor for our SOA investments in order to
make it easier to write services and deploy them, not only across a heterogeneous
enterprise but also stretching to the cloud, which is what BizTalk Services
is targeting. So by deepening investments in both BizTalk Server and Services,
Oslo expands the capabilities of our SOA platform. That is the first big bet
And is there a second big bet?
Yes. The second big bet for Oslo is around model-driven development.
This will be the anchor for a new generation of application development. It
will take model-driven development techniques mainstream and really deliver
a faster clock speed to IT that it needs in order to keep up with the pace of
Microsoft has talked about model-driven programming before. What will
be different this time?
Yes, we have talked about model-driven design for a long time. And the
industry has been pursuing this Holy Grail of...sketching out visually an application
that automatically generates code.
Largely, I would say, this has been unrealized. The first piece that has not
been delivered, I would argue, is these models are only accurate at a very specific
moment in time. They are there when you define the model but then they get out
of synch because there is some type of handoff where the business person prints
it out and hands over the spec to the developer and he has to fill in the gaps.
You are guessing around what was meant. People are always bridging the communications
gap that exists because of the differences between business and IT. So at some
point, the application becomes completely different from what the business side
thought it was.
The second piece is people have pursued this dream of model-driven design in
silos. You typically have all these models in isolation from each other. Your
business analyst might think about how they model requirements or business processes,
but an architect thinks about modeling schemas, services contracts, high-level
designs. An IT professional might have an entirely different set of models around
deployment or health models. And because each of the models is built with different
tools or standards, they are all non-unified. The challenge is, as people bring
all these together into a composite application, the model breaks down. So you
have to have the model not just describe the application, but the model must
become the application. So that is something fundamentally unique that we are
investing heavily in with Oslo.
How and when will Oslo enhancements get incorporated into some core products?
It starts with the .NET Framework version 4, which is the next version.
The framework will continue to enable some of the workflow foundation and communications
foundations types of concepts, which are model-driven today, but you will see
us further enabling model-driven types of behavior on the framework itself.
The framework will then be expanded and built upon by both BizTalk Server version
6 and BizTalk Services version 1, which will be the first commercial version
of our hosted services. BizTalk Server will still be that core foundation for
distributed SOA and BPM types of solutions, but you will see it take on the
ability to develop, manage and deploy composite apps, as well. So you can create
these models to look at what a whole app looks like and be able to run them
and execute them on BizTalk Server. BizTalk Services will do some similar things
but in the cloud. So you can really create these composite apps that span organizational
boundaries. You will see Visual Studio 10 with significant strides in tooling
around apps lifecycle management, specifically around model-driven design and
composition of services and apps together. It provides some of these types of
visualizations and composition techniques that are important, especially for
bridging the business and IT together.
Google Going Greener
Google is about to make another huge commitment to sun -- not the technology
company, but that big orb in the sky.
Earlier this week at the Conference on Clean Energy held in Boston, a Google
executive detailed a few solar-power
initiatives that the company is participating in, all aimed at reducing
greenhouse gases. For starters, Google intends to produce some 50 megawatts
of electricity from renewable forms for its operations by the year 2012.
Robyn Beavers, Google's director of environmental programs, said the company
is considering other forms of renewable energy. Some of those include the 1.6
megawatt solar installation headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. Besides solar
panels on building roofs, Google has built a carport with solar panels as a
roof where people can recharge their hybrid cars.
While she wouldn't comment specifically on other forms of renewable energy
Google was looking into, Beavers did said say that all forms of such energy
aren't under evaluation, including wind, fuel cells and geothermal.
Beavers said she expects Google's investment in solar power to pay for itself
in about seven-and-a-half years. She said the company's consumption from the
grid has been knocked down by some 30 percent.
White-Box Futures Looking Dim
It seems that sales of white-box PCs may turn a whiter shade of pale.
According to a report from IDC, the share of white-box computers hasn't changed
that much, dropping from a 44 percent share of the worldwide market in 2003
to 37 percent in 2006. However, the white-book market has fallen from an unimpressive
8.5 percent share to a 5.6 percent share over the same period of time. Given
the growing popularity of the general laptop systems market -- to the point
where laptops are easily the most dominant form factor among PCs -- this isn't
good news for white-box manufacturing.
What puts the smaller white-box makers at a disadvantage in the notebook market
(thereby making it hard to fight back) is that they count on an oversupply of
computer parts that they can snap up at a significant discount. But increasingly,
those overly abundant parts are designed for specific, and not generic, notebook
models. Mixing and matching components in a notebook is not as easy as doing
so with desktop and server systems.
Mailbag: Where To Send the '$100' Laptops, More
Lafe asked yesterday
whether sending inexpensive laptops to kids in developing countries is the way
to go. Should the focus be on the essentials -- food and shelter -- instead?
Here's Chris' take:
Laptops vs. food and shelter -- that's a tough question, but ultimately
it's the "give a man a fish and feed him today or teach a man to fish
and feed him forever" story. Food and shelter -- and safety -- are daily
needs with no end. This little project could actually be completed and may
eventually help to break the cycle of ignorance and indifference. There is
no revolution like the revolution of the mind.
My question is: Who will provide tech support? If there is no real follow-through,
then we've created $200 paperweights. Or boat anchors for those of you who
Meanwhile, other readers think the One Laptop Per Child project should set
its sights closer to home:
In my opinion, the kids may want a computer, but if they are hungry,
who is going to stop them from selling their laptops and using the money for
food? Big Silicon's idea is a great one, but the basics should come first.
If they want to help the world, they can start right here at home and
provide us with low-cost products. Then, we'll have the money to help others.
As to where I would send 10,000 laptops, I would have to say our American
How about sending them to needy children in the United States of America?
Guess that does not make sense to the powers that be. However, it would be
much appreciated by every American who has children in need. Foreign nations
are not alone in need. Home first, everyone else second.
On the way to work this morning, I heard on the news that more than 50
percent of children in the southern U.S. states are from families who are
living below the poverty level. This is a tragedy in our country. The story
went on to express the fear that the education for these youngsters would
not prepare them for lives that would be better than they currently have.
If I had the money, I would send my 10,000 laptops to the southern U.S. states
for the children in these low-income families.
Brett shares the craziest malware e-mail he's come across:
In the "Most Likely To Fool the Unsuspecting" department, I
once received an e-mail attachment with the filename "www.someurl.com" (I
forget the exact URL it pretended to be). Now, I knew that a .COM file is
an executable, but the sheer cleverness of this socially engineered virus
was amazing, as it could easily fool a person into believing it was an actual
Web site. And, yes, it was a virus that my anti-virus software detected and
And one reader gives us his thoughts on the just-released
Apple Leopard -- while another wonders why we even care:
In a perfect world, Leopard would have been released on time in June
'07, and would have been paired with the (then) newly released MacBook Pro
using the Intel Core 2 Duo Santa Rosa processor as a one-two punch.
Now, the two punches have landed four months apart. That's OK; when your
new system comes along in the spring, the new OS will be that much more finely
I'm been thinking for some time now about how odd it is that Redmond magazine
talks so much about other stuff. Your lead this week in the Monday Redmond
Report is about how much you want a new Mac. That's not why I subscribe to
Redmond magazine; I'll buy a Mac magazine if I am interested in that. I want
to hear about Microsoft -- the good, the bad, the ugly. I even agree that
it is worthwhile to talk about the competition, but at some point you've got
to decide whether you are truly focused on Microsoft or whether you want to
be a general industry magazine. It's great that it's "independent,"
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