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Nov172009

Goodbye Dublin, Hello Windows AppFabric

If you follow my blog, you know I tend to get involved early and be all over things like Dublin, Azure, BizTalk “1.0” in 1999, Windows Workflow Foundation in 2003, et al. Also, Microsoft does not ship products with their code names. So, the time has come for us to bid goodbye to Dublin. I had the pleasure of being involved early with it, see it through its infancy, but now its gone -- forever. But, it has morphed into something bigger than what I (for one) saw coming.

Today at PDC Bob Muglia, President Server and Tools Business, introduced the world to Windows AppFabric.

Windows Server AppFabric is a new set of capabilities, bringing together the functionality of Dublin, as well as Velocity (a high-performance, distributed, highly-scalable in-memory cache). In a related move, the Service Bus and Access Control Services that were formerly part of the .NET Services brand have also been rebranded and we now have we now have “Windows Azure platform AppFabric Service Bus” and “Windows Azure platform AppFabric Access Control services” (far too many words to form an acronym :)). Those are available today in CTP form as I blogged about here.

What’s really interesting to me is the continued blurring of where “on premises” ends and where “the cloud” starts. I’ve been tinkering in my spare time on some cool stuff (blog posts soon, I promises :)), that highlight this blurring. In that work though, I had some things executing in the cloud, communicating with my ESB behind the firewall, but AppFabric takes that concept a step further. The long term vision is that you will be able to take your app, and deploy it wherever you want to. Some or all may run on-premises, some or all may run in the cloud. The execution locale won’t matter, and… if the vision is fully realized (and I firmly believe it will be), your code will be the same. There are however, two distinct AppFabrics, the local Windows Server AppFabric, and the Azure platform AppFabric.

This is being called “symmetrical application services”, and the appeal is obvious. Your “killer app” can just be pushed up to Azure, with no code changes, and you can handle Internet-scale traffic.

So, what does this mean to BizTalkers? Just keep on doing what you’ve been doing. We’ve been right all along. By bringing in the capabilities formerly in code-name Dublin, AppFabric provides host capabilities for .NET 4.0 Windows Workflow Foundation and Windows Communication Foundation services, with extended management through the IIS manager, plus the ability to do service monitoring. You can even roll in the BizTalk Adapter Pack (license required, but can be licensed separately from BizTalk) and get connectivity to some popular line-of-business systems. However, just talking to SAP may not be good enough to do your integration. What if it’s down? Now you need to write retry logic. What if it returns an error? Now you need to write compensation logic. And so forth. BizTalk has always been, and continues to be, Microsoft’s integration server. It includes all the transactional semantics and “plumbing” that you need to integrate your systems and trading partners, as well as provide a solid foundation for a SOA infrastructure, particularly when combined with the ESB Toolkit. In addition, as I’ll explain in future posts, there will be good support for AppFabric from BizTalk.

Later today I’ll be posting something about the BizTalk announcements which will happen this afternoon.

Beta 1 of Windows Server AppFabric will be available today. I’d encourage you all to go off and explore some of the exciting capabilities. Get it at http://msdn.microsoft.com/AppFabric.

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