In conjunction with the rollout of its next-generation .Net Framework 4.0 release, Microsoft is readying a new distributed application server, code-named "Dublin."
Dublin -- a first Community Technology Preview (CTP) build of which Microsoft will release during its Professional Developers Conference (PDC) -- ultimately will be built into an unspecified future release of Windows Server. Before that happens, Microsoft will make the Dublin technology available to Windows Server customers as a separate download.
Steven Martin, Senior Director of Product Management with Microsoft's Connected Systems Division, chatted with me yesterday about Dublin, as well a bit about some of the new related functionality Microsoft is prepping as part of its .Net 4.0 release, on October 1.
"The lines between Web servers and application servers are continuing to blur," Martin told me. "Web applications are becoming more stateful, and we're seeing developers build more composite apps."
Microsoft developers who've been working with the Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) and Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) technologies that are part of the current release of the .Net Framework have expressed a need to have a single, end-to-end view of all of their data, pulled from multiple back-ends," Martin said. As a result of these trends, Microsoft decided to extend the application server capabilities currently built into Windows Server, he said.
"Developers using WF and WCF today have to build a separate host for their applications. Dublin will eliminate that requirement and give developers more scalabiity and support for long-running transactions," among other features, Martin said.
(The .Net Framework, the most recent version of which is 3.5, consists of the Common Language Runtime, Windows Presentation Foundation, WCF, WF, InfoCard, ASP.Net and a host of other developer-focused technologies. Microsoft is more tightly integrating WCF and WF in the .Net 4.0 release. It also plans to beef up support for REST, ATOM and Plain Old XML, as well as add performance, messaging and modeling enhancements to 4.0.)
Earlier this year, during a presentation at its TechEd conference, consultant David Chappell said he believed Microsoft was building a separate process server that would be a key part of its Oslo modeling strategy. My bet -- although I couldn't get Microsoft officials to say this -- is Dublin is that mystery server.
Microsoft's Dynamics team is going to be the first group at Microsoft to build appliations using Dublin, Martin said. One of the next versions of Dynamics CRM, as well as of Dynamics AX ERP, will run on top of Dublin and leverage the .Net 4.0 technologies, he said. (Martin wouldn't specify which releases specifically or when they'd ship.) Several third-party software vendors have committed to using Dublin and .Net 4.0, too, including AmberPoint, Epicor and Telerik.
Microsoft officials still won't provide a ship target for .Net 4.0, Visual Studio 2010 or any of the other elements that comprise its Oslo platform. Microsoft is slated to discuss Oslo in depth at the PDC in late October.