Microsoft Forms Interoperabilty Council

By Peter Galli  |  Print this article Print


Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame

Microsoft has formed a group that will work on improving the ability of the software giant's products to work together with third-party applications.

BOSTON—Hot on the heels of revelations that it is reaching out to the open-source community to find ways of interoperating with software licensed under the GPL, Microsoft announced on June 14 that it has formed an Interoperability Customer Executive Council.

The goal of the group is to identify areas for improved interoperability across not just Microsoft's products, but also the broader software industry.

Members will include CIOs and architects from both the corporate and government sectors, with Paris-based Société Générale, LexisNexis, Milwaukee-based Kohl's Illinois, the State of Delaware, Denmark's Ministry of Finance, and Spain's Generalitat de Catalunya and Centro Nacional de Inteligencia, in Madrid, already signing up as founding members.

Tom Robertson, Microsoft's general manager for interoperability and standards, told eWEEK that the goal is to recruit some 35 private and public sector members to the Council from across the world and many different sectors.

"The Council will focus on the common issues customers face in their heterogeneous environments, and then … look at the concrete steps we can take to resolve these," he said.

Robertson said Microsoft did not plan to invite any of its partners or competitors to join the council because its purpose is to identify specific shared customer issues and to develop a plan to resolve them. Once that was done, partners and competitors could be brought into the process, he said.

In an interview at the annual TechEd developer conference here on June 12, Bob Muglia, the senior vice president of Microsoft's server and tools business, told eWEEK that the Redmond, Wash., software company was "open to ways of working with the open-source community broadly, and even in the GPL space we are trying to find ways in which we can build bridges to GPL, but the bridge has to be carefully constructed."

To read more about Microsoft's efforts at outreach to the open-source community, click here.

Customers are working in increasingly heterogeneous IT environments and asking for a greater level of interoperability from their IT vendors, Muglia said, reiterating that Microsoft is committed to building bridges across the industry to deliver products to its customers that are interoperable by design.

The council will be hosted by Muglia and meet twice a year in Redmond. The first meeting is scheduled for this September. "We also expect to create working groups tasked with finding concrete solutions to the issues that arise as a result of the council meetings," Robertson said.

The council will have direct interaction with Microsoft executives and product team members to focus on those interoperability issues that are of greatest importance to customers, including connectivity, application integration and data exchange, he said.

Olivier de Bernardi, the group chief technology officer at Société Générale and a founding member of the council, said he believes that using technology designed with a commitment to interoperability between products, hardware, software and applications is the best way to design flexible and adaptable IT solutions that meet the needs of different business lines.

Likewise, Ignacio Alamillo, a research director at Spain's Generalitat de Catalunya, said Microsoft's role as an interoperability key player would help remove the main technical barriers to global e-government administrative services, reducing cost and time to market.

Microsoft has been making interoperability a focus for some time now. In February 2005, Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates wrote an open letter introducing the concept of "interoperable by design."

In addition, Microsoft's Virtual Server 2005 R2 supports Linux guest operating system and the company has technical collaboration agreements with SAP, Hyperion, JBoss and SugarCRM.

Read more here about how SugarCRM became the first outside party to offer its software under the quasi-open-source Microsoft Community License.

Technical work on interoperability issues around Windows, Linux, Unix and open-source software is also taking place in Microsoft's open-source software lab, and the company has set up a community Web site, Port 25, about the issue.

The company has also entered into intellectual property licensing deals with companies like NEC, Toshiba, Sony Ericsson, Autodesk and Nokia, and has implemented standards support for improved data exchange with Web services in the Windows Communication Framework, XHTML 1.0 (Extensible HTML) in Office 2007, and EDI (electronic data interchange) interoperability and RFID integration in Windows Vista and Office 2007.

Check out eWEEK.com's for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at www.eweek.com.


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