Microsoft Forms New Connected Systems Division

Microsoft Forms New Connected Systems Division

Mary Jo Foley

Microsoft quietly has formed a new Server and Tools sub-unit, known as the Connected Systems Division (CSD), designed to bring together a variety of Microsoft Web services, identity-management and other middleware products under common management.

Microsoft officials briefed industry analysts on the creation of CSD late last week.

CSD will unify Microsoft’s Distributed Systems Group (DSG) and the Business Process/Integration Division (BPID). The DSG oversees the Windows Communication Foundation (code-named “Indigo”), Web Services Enhancements (WSE), InfoCard, MSMQ, Active Directory and Microsoft Identity Integration Server (MIIS). BPID includes BizTalk Server, Host Integration Server, Commerce Server, RFID, Industry Standard Accelerators and Windows Workflow Services (code-named “Windows OE”).

“This move formalizes the already close working relationship of the two organizations and increases the ability of product groups to work even more collaboratively on product planning,” according to an corporate statement.

Peter O’Kelly, a senior analyst with The Burton Group, said he considered Microsoft’s consolidation into a single Connected Systems unit “a very sensible move, (and) one that will help to align Microsoft product plans in increasingly converged product domains.”

“Microsoft has, historically, had some challenges selling BizTalk and Host Integration Server, for instance, as they are relatively specialized offerings that don’t have the market momentum of Windows Server System products such as SQL Server, Exchange, and SharePoint,” O’Kelly added. “By aligning the products around Windows Communication Foundation (formerly “Indigo”), however, Microsoft should be able to more clearly articulate the value of the full Connected Systems Division product family.”

CSD will be part of the Server and Tools business led by Senior Vice President Eric Rudder. The reorganization will not result in any changes to the product plans of the aforementioned technologies, according to company officials. Nor will the move result in any change in overall headcount. Microsoft is not ready to announce who will lead the division, a corporate spokesman said.

Microsoft already uses “Connected Systems” to refer to one of the company’s five primary Go To Market (GTM) campaigns. The Connected Systems GTM is focused on attracting and “igniting” developers, and is very focused on Web services.

Microsoft foreshadowed the tighter integration of the Distributed Systems and Business Process technologies earlier this year at the February VSLive conference in San Francisco.

During his VSLive keynote address, Rudder offered a few details regarding the ways that Indigo was expected to affect BizTalk, Microsoft’s integration server; SQL Server, its database server; and SharePoint, its collaboration technology.

Rudder said that future iterations of these core products would build on the Indigo communications protocols.

Next Page: Microsoft Has Other BizTalk Moves in Store.

BizTalk 2006 (code-named “Pathfinder”) — the Beta 1 version of which went to testers in late July — will not use Indigo natively; instead, it will require an Indigo adapter, Rudder acknowledged. But the so-called “BizTalk Beyond” release will switch to using Indigo natively, Rudder said. Microsoft will assume by that point that customers and developers will be using Web services, he said.

Rudder emphasized in February that Indigo would not replace BizTalk.

“The need for BizTalk won’t go away. BizTalk is still going to orchestrate all these services we build using Indigo,” he told show attendees. “But again I do expect people to move to use BizTalk for orchestration and just use Indigo kind of as the transport layer.”

Rudder also hinted at how Indigo will impact the versions of SQL Server, post SQL Server 2005 (“Yukon”). In the near term, Microsoft is planning to mount the Indigo programming model atop the SQL Server Service Broker implementation, Rudder said. So, just as Indigo will be able to run on top of TCP, HTTP, UDP and MSMQ, it also will run on top of Service Broker, he said.

(SQL Broker, Rudder explained is “a separate program for people that like the database programming model and just want to think about queues as databases and want to think about sucking things out of queues as kind of hanging queries and result sets.”)

Beyond that, Rudder said, “we’ll also do the inverse and so we’ll actually have Service Broker the model use Indigo as the transport, so again people who like that type of database programming and using the database as a queue and looking at the attributes and selecting over and doing all that fancy stuff with messages.” And “for people who need that but want to run on top of the Indigo transport, we’ll do that in a future version of SQL Server as well.”

On the SharePoint front, Rudder noted that Microsoft is moving toward Windows Server System SharePoint “actually using Web services and having Web services infrastructure running on top of Indigo.”

In fact, Microsoft is planning to move most, if not all of its Windows Server Sytem family members “to have a consistent Web-service-based programming model,” Rudder said. That way, “you don’t have to learn a different API (application programming interface) to send a mail message or a different API to actually do collaboration scenarios or do workflow or do mail scenarios or do identity scenarios.

“We’ll have a set of Web services that will work the same way in Visual Studio,” Rudder said. “You’ll get to model it the same way in Visual Studio, you’ll get to monitor it the same way using our management tools.”

Ron Schmelzer, a senior analyst with ZapThink, said Microsoft’s division consolidation is in line with what’s happening with the service-oriented architecture (SOA) world.

“It’s clear that over the past few years, all the various distributed communications and integration technologies were increasingly inching their way towards each other,” Schmelzer said. “Whereas in the past it might have made sense to separate the messaging, component-oriented, and integration technologies into different areas, with the emergence of SOA and the fact that EAI (enterprise application integration) really has no future, but is rather subsumed within the area of building composite applications, it makes complete sense for Microsoft to want to group all these capabilities so they can plan.

“In the medium to long-term, Schmelzer continued, “I am sure that we will start to see new products, in particular more capabilities for building composite applications in an environment of heterogeneity, and increasing ability to do a wide range of service interactions, including peer-to-peer, event-based, and process-driven, service-oriented interactions.”

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Copyright © 2005 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Microsoft Watch.