Microsoft’s cloud release all about composite apps

Microsoft Corp. Thursday detailed two key pieces of its strategy for helping developers build applications for the Web and private cloud networks, with a heavy focus on using existing components to build composite applications and services.

Microsoft unveiled the Windows Server AppFabric release candidate, saying final availability will occur in June, while also announcing the first public beta for BizTalk Server 2010, which will be released to manufacturing in the third quarter of 2010.

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Microsoft described its application infrastructure technology during a webcast in which the company stressed the benefits of bringing cloud-like capabilities to existing IT resources behind the firewall. But the approach also seems reminiscent of service-oriented architecture, a buzz-phrase that has fallen out of favor in an IT industry now obsessed with cloud computing.

In addition to building composite applications, one of the major goals of service-oriented architecture, Microsoft said AppFabric and BizTalk Server will allow composite apps to span from the enterprise to public cloud services, such as Windows Azure

“What the composite application represents is a model where you will be able to take your existing IT assets, whether it’s LOB (line of business) systems, or traditional packaged applications, and seamlessly stitch them together into a model that builds a set of distributed applications that seamlessly span your enterprise, as well as connect up to the broader Internet,” said Abhay Parasnis, general manager of Microsoft’s application server group.

Building composite applications will help ensure portability of applications, so developers won’t be forced to rewrite applications to make them work in new cloud networks, he said.

For Web applications, AppFabric will perform caching, allowing high-speed access to and availability of application data, and will help developers build and manage services for composite apps, Microsoft says. AppFabric will be free to customers who have paid for Windows Server 2008 licenses.

BizTalk Server 2010, meanwhile, works with Windows Server AppFabric to enable developers “to more rapidly build composite applications that connect to disparate line-of-business systems through BizTalk Adapters and BizTalk Transformations from within .NET development environments,” according to Microsoft. “This release also delivers simplified trading partner management tools, an enhanced BizTalk mapper that simplifies complex transactions, and a unified dashboard for backup and restore functions.”

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