by Peter Galli on January 19, 2009 02:00pm

As Microsoft continues the drive for interoperability between different implementations on various platforms, the Interoperability Technical Strategy Team is, for the first time, participating as a code contributor to an Apache project: the Stonehenge incubator project.

Microsoft first talked about Stonehenge at ApacheCon 2008,  which was held in New Orleans last November.  Since then, it has been approved as an incubator project within Apache Software Foundation, and WSO2 and Microsoft have already contributed code for a web-services based sample application, known as StockTrader, to this effort.

That code can be found here, along with the contributions from WSO2.

Stonehenge has attracted some very prominent committers so far, Kamajit Bath, a Principal Program Manager in the Interoperability Technical Strategy Team and the lead for Microsoft's participation in Stonehenge, says in a recent blog post.

"I hope that the momentum will be sustained, and I am looking forward to seeing code contributions from other folks and seeing the StockTrader sample application enhanced with new features. I also hope that new sample applications will be developed to cover other areas of the WS-* standards that are not best represented by the StockTrader application. I look forward to participating in this discussion with the Stonehenge community," he says.

There are three Microsoft committers on the Stonehenge incubator project: Greg Leake, who wrote the original StockTrader application; Drew Baird, who worked to get it ready for contribution to Stonehenge; and Mike Champion, who will play an active role in this effort.

In a recent blog post, Champion says Microsoft have heard from customers that they want sample applications based on real-world scenarios and challenges, as these will help them realize the potential of these technologies that have been developed and standardized for the last 8 years or so.

The initial response from the Apache community has also been quite favorable, and "I have a personal commitment to invest in helping make Stonehenge a success, and look forward to digging in," he says.

Champion also notes that Stonehenge is being 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."

He cites, as an example of this, TechEd 2008, where 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, he says in the blog. 

StockTrader is also just the starting point for the broader goals of Stonehenge, which aims 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.

Stonehenge can also 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, he says.

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.

For Bath, projects like Stonehenge are important in enhancing interoperability between different software implementations. While standards organizations do a great job and the roll out of various WS-* standards is a testimonial to the fact that they can work efficiently, interoperability work doesn't stop at the end of the standardization process but, rather, that is where it really starts, he says.