Several of us at Microsoft have signed up to actively participate in the Apache Stonehenge Project that was accepted into the incubator recently.  This is only the latest in a number of open source interoperability projects in which Microsoft is active.

So, what is Stonehenge and why am I participating?  This project is championed by Paul Fremantle, co-founder and CTO of WSO2, which has been a great partner in helping to improve and demonstrate the interoperability of the WS-* standards across platforms.  For example, at TechEd 2008, Jonathan Marsh of WSO2 and Greg Leake of Microsoft demonstrated how separate WSO2 and Microsoft components implementing a mutlti-tier stock trading application can interoperate and be substituted for one another.  

StockTrader is just the starting point for the broader goals of Stonehenge.  As the project proposal puts it:

The aim of the Stonehenge project is to develop a set of sample applications to demonstrate seamless interoperability across multiple underlying platform technologies by using currently defined W3C and OASIS standard protocols.

We are proposing this incubator project because we believe that a project that includes a set of sample applications, with multiple language and framework implementations will become a useful and important part of the SOA landscape. It will:

· illustrate and develop best practice for interoperable applications that communicate via distributed protocols,

· demonstrate interoperability between platforms,

· provide sample code upon which SOA developers can build,

· help identify interoperability issues and their solutions, and

· build confidence in cross-platform deployment of SOA technologies

More generally, we believe that Stonehenge can help wire up the "last mile" between the standardized web services infrastructure that is now implemented across key platforms, and a new generation of service oriented applications that will span them. Existing WS-* interoperability work such of the sort done by WS-I and in our "plugfests" will continue to solidify the platform-level interoperability.  The new work, exemplified by Apache Stonehenge, should attract a wider community of users who can exploit the hard standardization and platform interoperability work without having to wallow in as many nasty details as in the past.

We've gotten clear direction from customers that sample applications based on real-world scenarios and challenges will help them realize the potential of these technologies which have been developed and standardized for the last 8 years or so. Likewise, the initial response from the Apache community has been quite favorable.   I have a personal commitment to invest in helping make Stonehenge a success, and look forward to digging in.

For more information on Stonehenge and other Microsoft work with the Apache Foundation, see: