Internet Service Bus

While TechEd is right in my backyard this year, being self-employed means no sugar-daddy to foot the bill for me to go. Instead, I’ve been doing the poor-man’s TechEd, where I nag my friends who could afford to go for daily updates and I watch the web sessions online. One piece that caught my fancy was the Internet Service Bus (basically ESB meets the intercloud).

Mesh is a cool tech preview to show off some of the cloud capabilities, but it really only scratches the surface of what you can do. ISB gives you a good glimpse into what’s to come further down the road. On the surface it doesn’t seem much more than a centralized .net services advertising broker, allowing you to point your remoting/web services to Microsoft’s cloud to figure out how to connect to your services.

It seems to allow a bit more though. While a lot of it is over my head at this point, one obvious benefit is the seamless service brokering. Behind my firewall/NAT’d router, I’d typically have to advertise my regularly-changing dynamic IP and open up one or more ports to forward to my local box. With the ServiceBroker stuff in the Biztalk SDK, when your service starts up, you simply have it register with ISB with your pre-created application/user account (this can be a username/password, a windows live account, a cardspace card, etc). Then users are able to access your service via a biztalk URL without you having to make any router/firewall changes. I have a SimpleShare example service running on my local box, which can be accessed as an RSS feed by anyone (with a free biztalk account) externally at:
http://connect.biztalk.net/services/mikeycooper/SimpleShareService/files/
The service allows anyone to download any files I throw into a test directory on my computer as long as the service is running.

I haven’t figured out how to get to Identity information yet to see WHO is requesting data from my service (the IncomingMessageHeaders.From is always null, for some reason) and there’s not much documentation yet. The sample applications don’t really give a great sense of what kind of cool stuff you can really achieve with such minimal effort, but its pretty impressive to dig around in once it all clicks.