I’ll say up front that this post is more of just thoughts in my head vs. any deep insight.
It hit me on Friday (as a result of a discussion list I’m on) that many of the recent additions to Microsoft’s application platform portfolio are first released as frameworks, and only later are afforded a proper hosting environment.
We saw this a few years ago with Windows Workflow, and to a lesser extent, Windows Communication Foundation. In both cases, nearly all demonstration showed a form of self-hosting, primarily because that was the most flexible development choice you had. However, it was also the most work and least enterprise-ready choice you had. With WCF, you could host in IIS, but it hardly provided any rich configuration or management of services.
Here in 2010, we finally get a legitimate host for both WCF and WF in the form of the Windows Server AppFabric (“Dublin”) environment. This should make the story for WF and WCF significantly more compelling. But we’re in the midst of two new platform technologies from Microsoft that also have less than stellar “host” providers. With the Windows Azure AppFabric Service Bus, you can host on-premise endpoints and enable a secure, cloud-based relay for external consumers. Really great stuff. But, so far, there is no fantastic story for hosting these Service Bus endpoints on-premise. It’s my understanding that the IIS story is incomplete, so you either self-host it (Windows Service, etc) or even use something like BizTalk to host it.
We also have StreamInsight about to come out. This is Microsoft’s first foray into the Complex Event Processing space, and StreamInsight looks promising. But in reality, you’re getting a toolkit and engine. There’s no story (yet) around a centrally managed, load balanced, highly available enterprise server to host the engine and its queries. Or at least I haven’t seen it. Maybe I missed it.
I wonder what this will do to adoption of these two new technologies. Most anyone will admit that uptake of WCF and WF has been slow (but steady), and that can’t be entirely attributed to the hosting story, but I’m sure in WF’s case, it didn’t help.
I can partially understand the Microsoft strategy here. If the underlying technology isn’t fully baked, having a kick-ass host doesn’t help much. But, you could also stagger the release of capabilities in exchange for having day-1 access to an enterprise-ready container.
Do you think that you’d be less likely to deploy StreamInsight or Azure Service Bus endpoints without a fully-functional vendor-provided hosting environment?