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MS SOA/BPM Conference Report, Part 1: People First

Blogger : David Pallmanns Blog
All posts : All posts by David Pallmanns Blog
Category : SOA
Blogged date : 2007 Nov 05

I'm just back from the Microsoft SOA and Business Process Conference. It was a good week on many levels. You can find some great detail about the conference on Sam Gentile's blog starting here. I love Sam's blow-by-blow, stream-of-consciousness method of blogging but I'm not going to attempt anything that ambitious. I do have some things to say about recent announcements and direction, but I'm going to tackle them individually in the days to come, one subject at a time, as my thoughts crystallize.
The first thing to understand about these conferences is that far and away the best thing that happens is you come face to face with people in the community (Microsoft product team and field team members, partners, customers, and vendors). There were 1,000 people attending the conference, includig many key players. Networking with humans is more important than the various technical announcements, sessions, and debates.
I was particularly glad that Sam brought Harry Pierson over to talk with me. Harry and I have been counter blogging a bit about ESBs, and as is so often the case a few minutes of talking in person gets a lot more accomplished than endless rounds of blogging does. Harry reminded me that networking topologies that work are not just about technological considerations. For example, there are all sorts of issues with getting a large enterprise to centralize configuration or even catalogue anything (such as a service registry) due to people problems. Fair enough. In turn, I hope I clarified a few things about our ESB design that put Harry at ease.
We really found common ground when we started talking about federation. Harry is a big believer in federation for all sorts of good reasons. In the case of Neuron, we have something called a zone which is an autonomous unit of deployment, each with its own centralized configuration and ESB server(s). You can have as many zones as you wish, and each stands on its own. You can establish bridges of communication between zones; the bridges tolerate temporary unavailability and keep messages synchronized. Although the primary scenario for zones is tying together different regions (say, your west coast data center and your regional call centers across the country), you can also use zones to divide your enterprise into solution domains. This ability to federate via zones allows "political realities" to be observed about who controls what. Thanks for the insight Harry.
It was also good to meet and talk with Jesus Rodriguez in person, who has done much for the community.
Speaking of people, Microsoft really reached out on a personal level at this conference. As they unfolded their vision for Oslo, admittedly in its very early stages, an appeal was made that the community really needed to be strongly involved to help shape this vision. "We can't do it without you" was a comment I heard more than once. Nice to hear.

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