Microsoft Outfits Developers with Indigo

Microsoft this week outlined its Indigo Web services technology, telling developers the Windows programming model would take Web services to the next level in terms of security, reliability and interoperability.

Microsoft also announced a community technology preview (CTP) of Indigo scheduled for March, at which time developers will be able to test, experiment and comment on Indigo beta releases and their features.

Industry analysts indicated that Indigo, like Microsoft’s Avalon graphical interface, released to developers late last year, was both an effort to stimulate development for the next-generation Windows, known as Longhorn, and an effort to signal that progress is being made on the platform — expected in 2006-2007.

Web Services

“It’s a tricky tightrope they need to walk between not over promising and over-hyping, and providing users, developers and [independent software vendors] enough information to [remain at the forefront of] people’s minds,” Yankee Group senior analyst Laura DiDio told TechNewsWorld.

Microsoft said Indigo would provide Web services interoperability — joining applications within and outside the enterprise — while delivering the higher level of security, reliability and communications capability required by corporate customers.

The company cited Indigo’s built-in support for WS specifications, which are protocols that act as building blocks for Web services.

“It is vital that developers have the tools to build connected systems that can enable organizations to reach out beyond their four walls to interact with customers and partners in new and valuable ways,” said a statement from Eric Rudder, Microsoft vice president of servers and tools, who outlined Indigo at an event in San Francisco. “With Indigo, customers have the tools to create software that reflects the dynamic nature of their business.”

Microsoft also said Indigo will be an extension of its .Net Framework 2.0, providing access to the technology for millions of Visual Studio developers. Indigo will also be capable of working with existing Web services technologies including ASMX, .Net Remoting, .Net Enterprise Services, WSE and System.Messaging, Microsoft said.

Post-Inertia Activity

Yankee Group’s DiDio said the Indigo news comes as more companies are beginning to embrace Web services.

“We’re going to see a lot of movement after a long period of inertia,” DiDio said. “After that, customers are finally upgrading and migrating because they have to.”

DiDio also highlighted the productivity improvements promised with Indigo, which is also intended to be interoperable with technology from Sun, IBM and BEA. This is “what customers want to hear,” DiDio said.

“It’s faster, it’s more efficient,” she said. “You don’t want to call it a shortcut, but it is going to save developers from writing thousands of lines of code because it already exists.”

Priming the Platform

Thomas Murphy, Meta Group senior program manager, told TechNewsWorld that Indigo is an important piece of Longhorn as well as an indication of the future of .Net.

“There’s been a lot of interest around the technology and where it’s going,” Murphy said.

The analyst added that Indigo — among other key Longhorn components, such as Avalon and the new WindowsFS file system — will ease Web services application development and is Microsoft’s effort to seed the market with applications for Longhorn before it arrives.

“The core thing is there is a fleshing out of the [application programming interface] around what services are available,” Murphy said. “The question is how to ramp up developers to build software now to take advantage of this, so when Longhorn ships, they can say they’ve got ISVs already shipping applications.”

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