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Governance for .NET SOA Frameworks

Microsoft's Managed Services Engine, designed to facilitate enterprise SOA through service virtualization, gains SOA governance support.

Microsoft's Managed Services Engine (MSE), developed by the company's consulting business to support services-oriented architectures (SOAs) using Web services to connect to other computing environments, will gain SOA governance support via third-party partners.

Microsoft released a test version of MSE on its CodePlex site in June, though the company has no current roadmap to commercialize what it describes as guidance for building cross-platform SOAs. MSE is designed to facilitate enterprise SOA through service virtualization. It's built on the Microsoft Server Platform and Windows Communication Foundation (WCF). Essentially, MSE enables service virtualization via a service repository, through which it supports management, abstraction, versioning, routing and runtime policy enforcement.

Network of Partners
Among the companies that will add SOA governance to MSE are AmberPoint Inc., Progress Software Corp. and SOA Software Inc., suppliers of tools for building governance around SOAs. SOA Software is the most recent to expand its relationship with Microsoft by certifying MSE as a Governed Service Platform for .NET Framework.

The expansion to include .NET Framework will let developers use MSE in heterogeneous enterprise SOA environments, says Frank Martinez, SOA Software's executive vice president. The company's Governed Service Platform also supports the sharing of services with other SOA platforms, including SAP NetWeaver and IBM WebSphere, and platforms from BEA Systems Inc., Oracle Corp. and Red Hat Inc.

SOA Software says it's also providing custom WCF bindings and an extensible channel stack to give companies using MSE additional governance capabilities.

Flavors of SOA Governance
SOA governance is an evolving concept that means different things to different people. ZapThink LLC Senior Analyst Ron Schmelzer divides it into three flavors: "Design-time governance," which ensures that when services are created they're consistent with rules and policies; "runtime governance," which makes sure that services in production are complying with rules and policies; and "change-time governance," which controls versioning.

Currently, SOA Software offers deep integration with several Microsoft technologies to provide governance capabilities, including Visual Studio, Team Foundation Server, .NET Framework and BizTalk Server. This new certification will also make it possible for customers to use SOA Software's Integrated SOA Governance Automation solution to make the services they expose on .NET Framework "visible to and compliant with" enterprise policies that are defined, enforced and audited across other platforms, Martinez says.

SOA Software is a likely partner to fill in this missing piece from Microsoft's SOA offerings, Schmelzer says. Both do well among small and midsized businesses, and SOA Software addresses some areas where Microsoft hasn't been pushing. While this latest move should help improve integration between .NET and other SOA platforms, SOA Software doesn't command much of the SOA market today, Schmelzer says -- but the extended pact has the potential to move both companies up the food chain.

"They extend a lot of the work we're doing to non-Microsoft platforms because they [address] governance," says Burley Kawasaki, director of product management in Microsoft's Connected Systems Division, of SOA Software and AmberPoint. "Solutions like this will really help us address the needs of very specific areas that they have expertise in."
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