A connected system is a type of distributed application. This type of application is becoming more prevalent as business owners and developers seek to connect people, processes, and information into effective value chains. The solutions architectures of connected systems are characterized by how they combine several recurring logical capabilities in a similar and coherent way.
The Foundations of Solution Architecture are:
At the "top of the stack," the user interface really drives the experience. Connecting the systems transforms an ad-hoccollection of LOB applications and intranet content into a focused, highly productive, role-specific tool. Such integration requires other integration at deeper levels in the stack, but is becoming much easier through both concepts (such as metadata-driven UI), and products (Vista, Windows Workflow Foundation, Information Bridge). Such interfaces greatly increase the efficiency of the information worker by aggregating information from separate systems into a single workflow, reducing training and increasing productivity.
Visit the User Experience page for technical content, opinions and ARCasts about User Experience.
Workflow and Business Processes|
With the advent of Windows Workflow Foundation, Vista, SharePoint, BizTalk, and other products, we are supporting our guidance on automating interactions between people and business applications in a robust, scalable, and extensible manner. An example of this is Business Activity Services which make it possible to organize and configure all information associated with different partners, both internal and external, in a way that supports the entire partner lifecycle using Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services and Microsoft Office.
Visit the Workflow page where you can learn more by reading articles, news, and ARCasts about Workflow.
Entity data (for example, customer data) is often located in multiple and often redundant stores throughout the enterprise. A major challenge is locating and aggregating this data to get views on the entities processable by business logic. This challenge escalates once we look at distributed systems such as smart clients and try to determine which data is important, which data has priority (does the client or server data become the authority on synchronization?), and which of multiple stores is the most up-to-date or accurate.
Visit the Data page for recommended readings, FAQs, and articles about Data.
Identity and Access|
Solution Architectures mean accessing multiple networks, applications, and even enterprises. How do you authorize and authenticate to these systems in a way that is both efficient in terms of minimizing user inconvenience and maximizing security? Unless a comprehensive and consistent security integration strategy is adopted, each new application will have to deal separately with the details of each security system. Through Active Directory® Federation Services (ADFS), along with other tools and guidance, we aim to reduce ad hoc solutions and give development and management tools for handling federation in a standardized and secure way.
Microsoft recently announced it will make significant investments in its digital rights management (DRM) technologies to enable new approaches and drive scenarios that support the wireless industry. The platform helps protect and securely deliver content for playback on computers, mobile devices, and portable devices. It supports a wide range of business models that include download and play, subscription, and video on demand, and enables device manufacturers to directly acquire licenses on their handsets.
Visit the Identity and Access page where you can find articles and information on Identity and Access.
Messages and Services|
Solution Architectures expose their functionality as a set of addressable services. Processes consume services by message interchange. This becomes even more important for heterogeneous systems, such as LOB applications. We have committed to Web services and standardization (BEPL, HL7) to provide this messaging.
When we speak of services and architectures composed of them, we specifically refer to code which complies with four fundamental tenets:
Visit the Messages and Services page where you will find articles, recommended readings, opinions, and links to more information about Service Orientation.
Tying the Components Together
To fully realize Solutions Architectures you must have Modeling and Tools on the development side and Management on the deployment side
Modeling and Tools|
Microsoft is focused on developing the tools to make models that are first-class artifacts in your development and management processes. We want to enable model-driven development (MDD) and model-driven management.
In MDD, subject matter experts, be they your call center manager, or your CFO, collaborate to deliver a complete requirements specification that can be used to automatically generate a component model, an information model, a process model, test cases, and operational policies for the new solution.
To engage specialized stakeholders, we provide them with tools that speak their language using an iconographic representation of that language which supports "drawing" the specifications with intuitive symbols and connectors. Such domain-specific languages (DSLs) can be developed to empower stakeholders, from the business analyst to the third-shift operations manager.
Unambiguous models produced by domain experts greatly reduce information loss in the requirements-gathering process. Industry-specific models reduce the risk of inconsistent or improper implementations, improving interoperability across diverse platforms. Automated transformations between models reduce coding errors and development time. Maintaining the concurrency of all models permits timely, informed feedback from all stakeholders, heading off the disastrous costs of projects gone awry.
Visit the Modeling and Tools page for a host of information on Modeling and Tools to help you tie the components together in the development phase.
As new applications and services are developed, deployed, and upgraded, a variety of changes are required in the underlying infrastructure. The power to manage this level of change is critical for success. Microsoft's management products and platforms are designed with features to help plan, deploy, configure, and monitor your critical applications, services, servers, and network. When combined with partner solutions, these products offer you the ability to manage your entire infrastructure, including those servers and applications not operating in a Windows environment.
Businesses are seeing a huge explosion of structured and unstructured information. Microsoft is driving innovation in Enterprise Content Management (ECM) with the release of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 that provides a broad set of ECM functionality on a unified platform and makes ECM available to every information worker in the organization.
Visit the Management page for links and information that will help you tie the components together during deployment.
Please explore, learn, imagine, and let us know what you think.