What is “Oslo”?

On NDC a couple of days ago, I went to a session where David Chappell talked about Microsoft’s forthcoming “Oslo”. He went to great lengths to not reveal too much, as Microsoft is keeping everything very secret.  In fact, he spent more time explaining what “Oslo” is not than what it actually is.

Figuring actually what is intended to be is not easy. However, from the presentation, we know that “Oslo” is more of a “technology” or “platform” rather than a product. It will consists of the following parts:

  • The Repository. It is a storage space that has schemas that defines its data types. Actually what type of information it is supposed to or limited to, is not known. However, examples include things such as process definitions, workflow definitions, IT infrastructure information, and SLAs.
  • The Visual Editor. This is a general purpose tool that allows for editing of content in the repository. General purpose meaning that it can be used for different types of data. However, not all communication with the repository need to go through this tool. Special purpose applications or tools can connect and interact with the repository directly.
  • Extensions to Windows Workflow Foundation (WF). I am not sure exactly what kind of extensions we will see, but I can guess that it would mean extra activity components.
  • The process server. Basically, the WF does not define any host process for running workflow, and the way I figure, the process server implement such a process. It will contain a component called Lifecycle manager that can manage many process host instances (I guess for Load balancing, failover, etc.). The process server will also contain the ability to run BizTalk stuff. A question that comes to mind is whether the process server is “Biztalk for managed code” – built with the capabilities of WF and WCF? Time will show.

So what is the common denominator for all this? I am not sure. I can’t help it, but one word that keeps popping up in my mind is “governance”. Will this be “Microsoft’s tool for IT governance”?

Anyways, the time perspective of this is not known. When will this be available? All we know, is that Microsoft is planning to deliver this in three releases. Will it be in 2009?