Pat Helland on Metropolis: Envisioning the Service-Oriented Enterprise

One of the more interesting presentations I attended at our annual Microsoft Global Briefing in Atlanta was a presentation by Pat Helland on Metropolis: Envisioning the Service-Oriented Enterprise. Pat is an Architect in the Architecture Strategy Team of the Developer Platform and Evangelism Group of Microsoft, and he has identified a number of very interesting parallels between urban development and the development of IT shops. By studying the history and evolution of cities, buildings, transportation, manufactured goods, retail, distribution, infrastructure, and government, Pat posits that we can make a number of very compelling arguments about the future of IT. That future predicts independent, interconnected services and a service orientation that includes four basic tenets:

· Explicit boundaries

· Autonomous services

· Shared schema and contract

· Policy-based service compatibility

I was fortunate enough to spend some time talking with Pat while a group of us walked to Starbuck's to get some coffee, and one of his concerns was whether or not we thought he had connected with his audience. Although Pat has definitely abstracted his discussion of architecture, I personally think his insight makes a lot of sense, and I think we can leverage his insight to understand the forces that are shaping the progression of technology and communication in our industry. If you don't like to think in an abstract way, I'm not sure how much you'll get out of this presentation. However, if you're looking for a compelling argument for a Service-Oriented Architecture, I encourage you to spend time watching his presentation. The group of fellow Microsoft employees I was with was glued to Pat the entire time.