Microsoft: Upgrade your Web services technology

Users gain security, other benefits by moving to Windows Communication Foundation

BOSTON -- Microsoft anticipates big benefits for those who upgrade to the planned Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) technology for Web services, a Microsoft technologist said at the TechEd 2006 conference on Monday.

While users certainly can stick with their current services, they would get benefits by moving over to WCF, said John Justice, a program manager at Microsoft who gave a presentation on WCF. "There's no reason to throw out your existing code," Justice said. By moving over to WCF, however, users can avail themselves of new features such as security, a flexible process model, manageability and the WS-* stack for advanced Web services, he said.

WCF features unified technology stacks and also is positioned to better enable interoperability and service orientation, which is a phrase that Microsoft technologists substitutes for the term SOA. The five stacks include: ASMX (ASP.Net Web Services), for interoperability; .Net Remoting, serving as a local object programming model; System.Messaging, for guaranteed delivery; Enterprise Services, for transacted communications and Web Services Enhancements, providing security on top of ASMX.

"Looking at this, if you want to use all these features today, it turns out that you can't get all of them at the same time," Justice said. A lot of glue code is needed, he added.

But WCF combines these technologies and dramatically reduces the amount of code that needs to be written for Web services to just a few lines.

"That's where WCF came from, that's what WCF is. It’s the next version of all these stacks," Justice said.

WCF presents a compelling technology for remoting, said TechEd attendee Sean Sparks, a senior systems analyst with Fluke Networks.

"It's certainly something I'd look to potentially deploy for a variety of applications," Sparks said.

Currently available in a beta form, WCF is due in a general release version as part of the Windows Vista operating system, which is scheduled to ship in 2007. WCF also will be available for use with some previous Microsoft Windows variants.

In shying away from the term SOA, Microsoft officials seek to avoid the use of a buzzword and want to focus on the architectural style of service orientation.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.