Microsoft joins OMG

Company pushes software modeling initiatives and plans to assist with the evolution of standards

As part of its strategy for model-driven software development, Microsoft on Wednesday announced it has joined the Object Management Group (OMG).

OMG standards have included UML (Unified Modeling Language) and BPMN (Business Process Modeling Notation). Microsoft plans to take an active role in OMG working groups and contribute to an industry dialogue and assist with the evolution of standards, the company said. Microsoft is now working with the OMG finance working group on information models for insurance business functions related to the property and casualty industry.

"We think OMG is important to help contribute to the open industry dialogue. Modeling has been something that has really been viewed as sort of a niche," said Burley Kawaski, director of product management for the Microsoft Connected Systems Division.

Microsoft, meanwhile, has been developing its own modeling initiatives, including Oslo, for model-driven software development, and its Visual Studio Rosario release.

The company has not been a supporter of UML, instead deferring to third parties to provide plug-ins offering UML support to developers. But with Rosario, the company will add support for UML 2.1.1. "For certain communities, the UML support is very important," Kawasaki said. Microsoft currently has no target release date for Rosario but previously has offered up late-2008 as an estimate.

Modeling has been viewed as a means to break down technology and role silos in application development and assist IT departments with offering more effective business strategies, Microsoft said. But modeling has failed to have a mainstream impact on how organizations develop and manage core applications, the company said.

"Many people have tried modeling many times and failed," said Kawasaki. "We think there is a much broader use of modeling that has much greater potential."

The company believes models must evolve to be more than static diagrams defining a software system. Implementing models as part of the design, deployment and management process would give organizations a deeper way to define and communicate aspects involved in the application lifecycle.

Putting model-driven development into Microsoft's .Net platform will provide organizations with visibility and control over applications, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft views model-driven technologies as a main pillar of its "Dynamic IT" vision for aligning business and IT. Other pillars include service enablement, virtualization, and the user experience.

In addition to UML backing, Microsoft plans to support BPMN in Oslo and its Visio drawing and modeling tool.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.