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Tuesday, 21 October 2008 13:02

IT's a good read! '” Part 1: Microsoft Architecture Journal

The first of an occasional series recommending some excellent, serious IT publications that are available for the asking via the Web, and nearly all of them are free.

I must admit that I still like curling up in front of a warm fire with a cuppa and getting stuck into some really serious IT reading material.

None of this frivolous (even if seriously moneymaking) fluffy stuff for me, like the iPhone or Britney Spears' new web site. I'm getting too old, stodgy and pernickety to spend precious time on such trivia!

I'm aiming to pen a few articles about nearly-always free, serious IT publications (books, white papers, magazines, presentations) that various IT vendors and other organizations or individuals offer in a from downloadable from the Web.

I'm talking about non-lightweight IT publications that will interest (mainly) just IT professionals. By this I mean people such as IT developers, designers, administrators, architects, managers, and so-called power users. Out of the series of articles you're sure to find topics that will interest you, although for sure

In each article, I'll write a few words about each, a page or two at most, and provide instructions for obtaining them (URL links, whether site registration is required, etc). Sometimes I'll provide links to ancillary but related sites, usually those of the relevant authors.

To kick off this series, I'd like to heartily recommend a fine publication that shows a side of Microsoft that most people don't ever get around to seeing: the Microsoft Architecture Journal. (I say this because most people get involved with Microsoft products only at the desktop PC level.)

Journal editions are downloadable as PDF documents, or you can access individual articles online.

The above is the journal's home page at MSDN (the Microsoft Developer Network), which is a subsidiary part of the MSDN Architecture Center that is "dedicated to providing information, ideas, and community to software architects and business decision makers." (The members of the Microsoft Australia and New Zealand Architecture team can be found here.)

There's also available the Architecture Journal Reader described as "a locally installed application that enables you to take every issue of the Journal into a searchable, immersive, and easy-to-read experience."

The home page proper of the journal is here. This requires a Microsoft Live registration, and is where you need to go so as to order the e-mail newsletter (which will advise you of new journal editions as soon as they come out) and  register for the print version of the journal.

But what sort of matter is in the journal that makes it excellent reading?


At the time of writing, October 2008, the current edition of the Microsoft Architecture Journal is number 17.

This has the theme of distributed computing, with articles such as Considerations for Designing Distributed Systems and Architectural Patterns for Distributed Computing and Head in the Cloud, Feet on the Ground and Distributed Applications in Manufacturing Environments.

Journal 9 (October 2006) was around software factories, and Journal 6 (January 2006) was about SOA Governance.

Journal 13 (October 2007) covers Microsoft's vision of "Software + Services."  This, you may or may not know, is not the same as "Software as a Service (SaaS)."

In this edition, Ray Ozzie, the "father of Lotus Notes" and Microsoft’s chief software architect (he assumed this role from Bill Gates in June 2006) shares his vision for a Software + Services world, and some of his thoughts on becoming a software architect.

Journal 13 also has articles on Implications of Software + Services Consumption for Enterprise IT and Enterprise Mashups and Microsoft Office as a Platform for Software + Services and A Planet Ruled by Software Architectures ("tour of Architectopia, a world where different computing paradigms define civilizations"). Wow!

You get the idea, it's all great reading. Naturally enough it tends to have a Microsoft orientation, which nobody can begrudge them. (Not me, certainly, and you probably already know that I'm an IBM retiree. Besides, I'll be writing soon enough about various IBM publications for IT professionals.)

I happened to attend the Microsoft Architect Summit in Melbourne early in 2004, and this was fortunate indeed, since one of the keynote presenters was Pat Helland.

He left Microsoft during 2005 for a two-year stint at Amazon, but returned to the Microsoft fold during 2007. You'll find a bit about him in this fairly recent profile and this interview by TheServerSide. Also, here's his weblog.

The reason that I'm picking him out is because Pat Helland is quite famous for his Metropolis (found in Journal 2, April 2004). No, this is not about Fritz Lang's classic sci-fi movie, but rather: "A metaphor for the evolution of information technology into the world of service-oriented architectures."

The fascinating Metropolis article "Explores the idea that information technology is evolving in a fashion similar to how American cities have evolved over the last two centuries. The opportunities and pressures of the technological revolution have driven our metropolises to adopt new frameworks, models, and patterns for commerce and communication. Recent developments in IT are analogous." And is asks: "What can we learn about the present and future directions of IT by studying the recent history of our urban centers?"

There's a related article Metropolis and SOA Governance in the July 2005 edition of the journal.

I've been hunting for a complete webcast of Pat Helland's Metropolis presentation, but cannot find one anywhere. The best I could find is this one: IT shops have evolved a lot like cities which even though only 2:20 in duration is worth watching.

I'd appreciate it if anybody can locate a long version and post the URL in our comments section. (A 329 MB downloadable March 2004 version here has "gone missing" and I wonder if there's a copy lurking elsewhere on the Web.)

So there we are: the Microsoft Architecture Journal. It really is a good read!

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Tony Austin

Worked at IBM from 1970, for a quarter century, then founded Asia/Pacific Computer Services to provide IT consulting and software development services (closed company at end of 2013). These says am still involved with IT as an observer and commentator, as well as attempting to understand cosmology, quantum mechanics and whatever else will keep my mind active and fend off deterioration of my grey matter.

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