Microsoft Previews Indigo at VSLive

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--Microsoft gave attendees at last week's VSLive conference in San Francisco a closer look at its new Web services-oriented "Indigo" communications infrastructure. During his conference keynote, Microsoft SVP Eric Rudder described Indigo as "a natural extension to the .Net Framework," which will enable developers to build more secure, reliable, and interoperable applications.

Indigo is built on the .NET Framework, which is designed to provide a single programming model across multiple Microsoft products and runtimes. Indigo's role is to provide a single communications layer across these products and runtimes. The result, says Microsoft, is a service-oriented programming model for unifying distributed systems capabilities in a "composable and extensible architecture, spanning transports, security systems, messaging patterns, encodings, network topologies and hosting models."

Indigo was originally conceived as a component of the new Longhorn operating system, but the Longhorn release date has been pushed back a number of times, and Microsoft now plans to make Indigo available separately for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. Indigo is due in 2006, but a beta is expected in the first half of 2005.

Rudder also announced that a community technology preview (CTP) of Indigo will be available in March, prior to the beta release, so that developers can test it and offer feedback on features.

"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," Rudder said.

Microsoft also plans to release "Avalon," its new presentation engine, separately for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. Microsoft issued a CTP preview of Avalon for developers earlier this year. Both Indigo and Avalon are also expected to be included in the 2006 Longhorn rollout.

Microsoft will deliver Indigo as an extension of the .NET Framework 2.0. Microsoft first released its .NET Framework in 2002 as an environment for building Web services. The company has since released its Web Services Enhancements for .NET (WSE--Microsofties pronounce it "wizzy"), an add-on to the Visual Studio .NET development tool and the .NET Framework designed to allow developers to write and implement advanced Web services specifications, such as WS-Security, WS-Routing, and WS-Attachments, by adding a few lines of code to their Web services applications.

During the keynote, Microsoft's lead product manager Ari Bixhorn demoed a patient-tracking application for a hospital. The app sent data from monitoring devices into an Indigo service, which was sent out to multiple clients. To illustrate how Indigo works with non-Indigo services, Bixhorn added a Web service for patient prescription data that ran on BEA's WebLogic app server.

Rudder assured attendees that Microsoft would continue to support the "classic protocols," including ASI and LDAP. However, he warned that the Microsoft Windows Server roadmap was moving "to a consistent Web services model, so you don't have to use different APIs."

Conference organizers threw a big spotlight on the technology by kicking off the VSLive show with "Indigo Day," which featured a full day of training and speaker sessions on the technology. They even offered a special one-day rate for attendees who just wanted to get up to speed on Indigo.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at [email protected].