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Analyst: Microsoft Oslo part of 'tectonic shift' to business design

Look beyond Microsoft's development tools -- the future is in business design

Microsoft may have been slow getting out the gate with an SOA strategy, but at least one analyst says that Microsoft's "Oslo" strategy represents more than a foray into SOA -- it represents a change in the way business interacts with IT.

Microsoft announced Oslo last month, based on an upcoming bundle of products that emphasizes metadata, modeling, repositories, composite application development, and hosted services. The Oslo SOA bundle will encompass BizTalk Server 6, BizTalk Services 1 (Internet Service Bus), .NET Framework 4, Visual Studio 10, and System Center 5.

But look behind all these glitzy things, Forrester analyst Randy Heffner urges in a new briefing. The potential game changer of Oslo "is not unified modeling or a common repository; it is that Oslo places Microsoft’s platform and tooling of a long-term trajectory toward the deeper and more direct focus on business design," he writes. "If you view Oslo’s impact as simply improvements in application development productivity, tooling, and maintenance, you will miss the big picture. To be a strategic architecture leader, you must be prepared to help your enterprise think differently about the relationship between business and technology."

Heffner observes that writing requirements documents for IT has always been a long and arduous process. "These requirements documents did not capture the business design; they merely represented those few points where businesspeople saw a need for an IT screen for entering or retrieving data."

Heffner adds that BPM-based solutions capture business processes "in metadata that controls operation of the application at runtime. An increasing range of business metadata is at the center of a tectonic shift in the focus of solution building and programming. Rather than applications being IT’s translations of selected business requirements, business technology solutions become direct reflections of the business design itself."

Oslo will include "active metadata will allow business analysts to capture key business design and policy decisions in a declarative way that businesspeople can understand and modify in real time (with appropriate controls) to effect changes in the operation of the business. Its common repository will ensure that the various parts of the business design and business metadata are appropriately related and connected — unlike today’s silos of business metadata."