Arvindra Sehmi
Architect, Developer and Platform Evangelism Group, Microsoft

January 2005


Dear Architect,

The advances in technology and industry standards that enable service oriented architecture (SOA) are also driving a paradigm shift in client architecture. Individually these changes may be considered evolutionary, but in aggregate they unite to revolutionize client architecture. Historically, client side applications were tightly bound to a specific backend system. More precisely, the primary function of the client-side application was to expose the functionality and data of a specific backend system to users. While it was possible to build clients that could interact with multiple backend systems, doing so was extremely complex and seldom undertaken.

SOA has changed all of that. In a SOA, the functionality and data of backend systems are exposed as services (or fronted by mid-tier web services), and those services are consumed by client applications. The client application is no longer tightly bound to a single backend system. Businesses now have the freedom, and means, to efficiently build radically new client applications that truly optimize user productivity and streamline workflow.

The design imperative for client side applications has shifted from system centric models of connecting the user population at large to specific systems, to user-centric models that provide users with transparent access to all the services they need for their job or task. If one extends this model by seamlessly integrating these services with the rich capabilities of desktop applications, then one can achieve something which redefines the standards for operational excellence. And furthermore, by giving equal treatment to both user and system models within a convergent service-centric model, one can significantly enhance the integration between them with seamless functional interoperation.

In this edition of JOURNAL, we begin the intriguing journey to explore perspectives of these various models.


Chris Capossela
Vice President,
Information Worker Business Group,
Microsoft Corporation

Dear Architect,

Welcome to the autumn issue of JOURNAL.

It has been several years now since .NET hit the streets and created momentum around Microsoft's vision of connecting people and processes together, anytime, anywhere and on any device. This vision was built on Web services standards implementations on .NET and broad adoption in the technical community. Both prerequisites have been achieved, not only on .NET but also on other vendor platform offerings .With this has come a better understanding of the new possibilities for application architectures, specifically SOA which, I would argue, is the first expression of that understanding.

We are seeing the architectural ideas behind SOA being adopted in many areas of the overall system solution. These are not restricted just to the application layer because of resulting productivity and business benefits. For instance, integration, interoperability, management, operations, testing, security, data and user interface aspects of system solutions can each be viewed from the perspective of service orientation. A so-called service oriented convergence (SOC) phenomenon is taking place, at least conceptually, amongst the architectural thinkers I have been working with lately.

In this issue of JOURNAL there are three papers which will add some credence to this way of thinking especially as it relates to the role of service consumers in SOC and particularly the role of smart clients and task-oriented user interfaces.

We start with a paper by David Hill, a member of the Microsoft Architecture Strategy team, who contrasts thin and smart client architecture approaches and provides guidance on how to choose between them. David shows us that "smart clients are rich clients done right", leveraging new technology and techniques to avoid the pitfalls of traditional rich client applications whilst aligning neatly with the principles of convergent service-centric system models.

Ricard Roma i Dalfó from Microsoft's Office division discusses in his article a new metadata-driven approach to building task-oriented service consumers directly within Microsoft Office applications. The Information Bridge Framework (IBF) goes beyond a service's WSDL metadata by automating the construction of user interfaces from metadata descriptions of the entities that constitute consumed services. It does this by describing entity views, their relationships and identity references, and operations which can be performed on them.

Performance is probably one of the least understood and misquoted metrics in the field of computing today. However, as a metric for system evaluation, it is considered by most users to be one of the most important and critical factors for assessing the suitability of systems. Richard Drayton of FiS and Arvindra Sehmi from the Enterprise Architecture team in Microsoft EMEA write a paper on benchmarking a scalable transaction engine which has an architecture based on loosely coupled, stateless, message processing components arranged in a queuing network. This architecture proved invaluable from a benchmarking perspective because it is backed up by sound mathematical techniques which enable an assessment of the impact on performance of various implementation realization techniques a-priori to deciding on any specific realization technologies. Therefore, measured benchmark metrics inherit and benefit from these mathematically credible foundations.

Pedro Sousa, Carla Marques Pereira and José Alves Marques, all from Link Consulting, follow with their paper discussing how, within the context of various Enterprise Architecture Frameworks each with their own concepts, components, and methodologies, the most important concern for architects is alignment. This concern may lead to consideration of simpler architecture concepts and simpler methodologies because the focus is not to define development artifacts but to check their consistency.

Next, Maarten Mullender, Solutions Architect in Microsoft's Architecture Strategy team introduces us to Razorbills, which is a proposal for describing 'what' services do, thereby dramatically improving the usefulness of service consumption. There are similarities with the second article on IBF where the description is done in terms of entities, views, actions, references and relationships but the emphasis is on helping business analysts and users to better bridge the gap between structured and unstructured, and formal and informal content and process. Maarten goes further to discuss the relevance of this approach in entity aggregation at informational and functional levels, user interaction and collaboration.

The final paper is a short piece on Next Generation Tools by Oren Novotny of Goldman, Sachs & Co. In this he argues that development tools must support the shift that languages have already made and fully support model-driven development. He insists source code files should be eliminated as they no longer serve a useful function in this context and the current rationale for using them is made irrelevant by better and different means in these next generation tools.

Please visit the Microsoft Architecture Center to keep up-to-date on architecture thinking at Microsoft and to conveniently download JOURNAL articles.

As always, if you're interested in writing for this publication, please send me a brief outline of your topic and your resume to Wishing you a great holiday season and good reading!

Arvindra Sehmi
Architect, D&PE,
Microsoft EMEA

Articles in This Issue

Choosing the Right Presentation Layer Architecture
Information Bridge Framework: Bringing SOA to the Desktop in Office Applications
Benchmarking a Transaction Engine Design
Enterprise Architecture Alignment Heuristics
Razorbills: What and How of Service Consumption
Next Generation Tools for Object-Oriented Development

Download this issue here


Executive Editor & Program Manager

Arvindra Sehmi
Architect, Developer and Platform Evangelism Group, Microsoft EMEA

Managing Editor

Graeme Malcolm
Principal Technologist, Content Master Ltd

Editorial Board

Christopher Baldwin
Principal Consultant, Developer and Platform Evangelism Group, Microsoft EMEA

Felipe Cabrera
Architect, Advanced Web Services, Microsoft Corporation

Gianpaolo Carraro
Architect, Developer and Platform Evangelism Group, Windows
Evangelism, Microsoft Corporation

Mark Glikson
Program Manager, Developer and Platform Evangelism Group, Architecture Strategy, Microsoft Corporation

Simon Guest
Program Manager, Developer and Platform Evangelism Group, Architecture Strategy, Microsoft Corporation

Neil Hutson
Director of Windows Evangelism, Developer and Platform Evangelism Group, Microsoft Corporation

Terry Leeper
Director, Developer and Platform Evangelism Group, Microsoft EMEA

Eugenio Pace
Program Manager, Platform Architecture Group, Microsoft Corporation

Harry Pierson
Architect, Developer and Platform Evangelism Group, Architecture Strategy, Microsoft Corporation

Michael Platt
Architect, Developer and Platform Evangelism Group, Microsoft Ltd

Beat Schwegler
Architect, Developer and Platform Evangelism Group, Microsoft EMEA

Philip Teale
Partner Strategy Manager, Enterprise Partner Group, Microsoft Ltd

Project Management

Content Master Ltd

Design Direction

venturethree, London

Orb Solutions, London


Richard Hughes
Program Manager, Developer and Platform Evangelism Group, Architecture Strategy, Microsoft Corporation

Foreword Contributor

Chris Capossela
Vice President, Information Worker Business Group, Microsoft Corporation

This article was published in the Architecture Journal, a print and online publication produced by Microsoft. For more articles from this publication, please visit the Architecture Journal Web site.