Microsoft Collaborates With Customers, Competitors and Partners to Deliver Real-World Interoperability Solutions

REDMOND, Wash. — Oct. 24, 2007 — In just one year the Interop Vendor Alliance (IVA) has more than doubled in size to comprise 50 companies and has delivered real-world interoperability results through the work of its technical labs, on display this week at Interop New York 2007. During that same period the Interoperability Executive Customer (IEC) Council has made strong progress across four significant work streams, addressing more than 60 percent of all issues raised within its first year of establishment.

The IEC Council and IVA are two initiatives born out of Microsoft Corp.’s enhanced commitment to identify and address, directly and through collaboration, the interoperability issues that matter most to customers. Both groups take a holistic approach and bring together leading minds focused on the same goal of realizing better IT interoperability, and through persistent hard work and analysis they have each produced tangible results in their first year.

“Customers consistently identify interoperability as a critical factor when choosing a technology solution, making it a top priority for Microsoft to design software and solutions that will seamlessly connect to other platforms, applications and data,” said Bob Muglia, senior vice president of the Server and Tools Business at Microsoft and executive sponsor for the IEC Council. “I am seeing strong progress from our engagement with other vendors in the IVA and from the work streams at the IEC Council. We are getting real work done to improve our solutions and their relationship to other technologies in the workplace.”

Interoperability Executive Customer Council

One year after its inception, the 41-member Interoperability Executive Customer Council is meeting for the third time this week in Redmond, Wash. Led by Muglia and a team of executives from numerous Microsoft divisions, it includes chief information officers, chief technology officers and technology architects from governments and leading corporations who work with Microsoft executives and product teams to address the interoperability issues of greatest importance to customers.

Council members — who meet frequently in smaller, work-stream meetings throughout the year — represent a range of governmental bodies and the insurance, banking, financial services, transportation, travel, consulting, consumer products, retail and manufacturing industries. From four continents (North America, South America, Asia and Europe), 18 members are public-sector entities, and 23 are in the private-sector. In just over a year the IEC Council has made significant progress against its four initially defined work streams, addressing more than 60 percent of all issues raised thus far. Those four work streams are as follows:

  • Office productivity and collaboration tools. Ensuring that various productivity tools can exchange documents and enable true collaboration and document management across systems

  • Developer tools and run time. Facilitating application development across platforms and systems

  • Security and identity management. Promoting security across many identity platforms

  • Systems management. Enabling end-to-end, cross-platform service management to help increase efficiency and control, and to reduce problem-resolution time

Highlights in the security and identity management work stream include Microsoft’s collaboration with industry partners Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems (FOKUS), ThoughtWorks Inc., Zend Technologies Inc. and Ping Identity to develop open source interoperability projects on information cards for systems based on Sun’s Java language, Ruby, PHP and C-module. The fruits of these collaborations will ultimately provide people with better control over their personal information on the Web and greatly improve the trustworthiness of Web-based interactions. More information about information card interoperability written using Java language to support server platforms running on Linux can be found at http://sourceforge.net/projects/informationcard.

Highlights in the systems management work stream include Microsoft’s acquisition of enterprise-management company Engyro, which helped to provide and incorporate other monitoring products natively in Systems Center Operations Manager 2007.

“The IEC Council is an important platform to extend globally the experience we gain through working with Microsoft on local interoperability solutions,” said Dr. Radu Popescu-Zeletin, director of the Fraunhofer Institute FOKUS.

“At Novartis we have a large, multiplatform, multivendor IT environment, and making sure these systems work well together is a priority for us,” said Thomas Vogel, the Novartis representative on the IEC Council. “Effective interoperability means that we are more efficient as an IT organization, resulting in business processes that are more cost-effective and reliable. Microsoft’s IEC Council is addressing the right issues and taking on challenging problems. We are at the beginning of a longer process, but to this point I’m pleased with the commitment to both the issue and the council itself.”

Interop Vendor Alliance

Launched in November 2006, the IVA is a community of partners working together to address customer demand for increasingly significant interoperability issues. The IVA discusses mutual customer feedback and focuses on increased technical collaboration to resolve common interoperability challenges through scenario-based testing. Current membership includes Linspire Inc., Xandros Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., Sun Microsystems Inc., and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD), among others. A list of all IVA members, case studies, additional labs or more information is on the IVA site at http://interopvendoralliance.org.

“The IVA creates a valuable forum for creating a better understanding of the scenarios and potential enhancements most important to our customers,” said Tom Robertson, general manager for Interoperability and Standards at Microsoft. “This is critical because customers want us — their vendors — to work together, meet their needs and solve their problems, and the IVA provides the opportunity to do just that.”

At Interop New York 2007 this week, the IVA Pavilion will showcase members highlighting the fruits of several significant collaborations.

  • IVA members EMC Corp., CA, Engyro, Tidal Software, F5 Networks Inc. and Microsoft streamlined the management of heterogeneous systems including Linux, Oracle, JBoss, SAP, Windows and SQL Server through the work of the Systems Management Interoperability Lab. Lab results can be seen at http://interopvendoralliance.org/demos/Lab1/demo.swf.

  • IVA members Centeris Corp., Centrify Corp., Quest Software Inc. and Microsoft worked together to demonstrate how to centrally manage security identities across Linux, UNIX, Mac OS X and Windows systems in the Centralized Identity Lab. Lab results can be seen at http://interopvendoralliance.org/demos/Lab2/demo.swf.

  • Under the Federated Identity initiative, Microsoft worked with IVA members CA and Oxford Computer Group and other industry vendors to create step-by-step lab guides to demonstrate cross-product federation. Lab results can be seen at http://interopvendoralliance.org/demos/Lab3/demo.swf

  • Advancing Portal Document Repository collaboration, IVA members Meridio, Open Text Corp., Vorsite Corp., SchemaLogic Inc. and Microsoft have shown together how companies can easily identify, move, search and collaborate on documents across portals and repositories.

“In today’s heterogeneous IT environment, it’s not enough to provide customers with a menu of technology options or point solutions. Customers expect and require interoperable solutions across IT providers and technologies to reduce implementation risk, accelerate time to market and increase value to their business,” said Mike O’Neill, vice president of Technology Alliances at EMC. “EMC’s engagement with the Interop Vendor Alliance builds on our long-standing commitment to hardware and software interoperability testing on the Microsoft platform and reduces complexity in deploying solutions in open, multivendor environments.”

“As the identity and access marketplace matures, organizations like IVA are going to become more crucial in ensuring customers receive high-quality, interoperable solutions,” said James Booth, vice president of Oxford Computer Group.

In addition to IVA members featured the IVA Pavilion during Interop New York 2007, Microsoft’s Tom Robertson will deliver a keynote speech on Thursday, Oct. 25, during the 9 to 10:30 a.m. session titled “Why Interoperability?” which outlines Microsoft’s stance on interoperability by design and its importance in the IT ecosystem.

Microsoft Invests in Interoperability

In February 2005 Microsoft began working on its goal to deliver interoperability by design based on a broad commitment to the Extensible Markup Language (XML). Since that time, the company has announced more than 30 interoperability deliverables that include the movement of dozens of specifications to the Open Specification Promise (OSP), landmark technology interoperability projects such as the Linux and Windows virtualization, and management work being done by Microsoft and Novell.

Interoperability work has most recently included technologies in the identity management and cross-platform Web development and design technologies. In addition, Microsoft announced today that the OSP is being extended to hypercall API in Windows Server virtualization. By extending the OSP, Microsoft is applying virtualization to further enable interoperability across commercial and open source software solutions and develop more self-managing and dynamic customer IT systems. Further information can be found at http://blogs.technet.com/stbnewsbytes/default.aspx.

“Interoperability helps customers trust that they are making the most out of their IT investments, and our focus on interoperability is consistent with the level of attention we are giving to security and privacy,” Muglia said. “Our dedication to interoperability, and the collaborations with vendors and customers that enable true, market-based results, is bearing fruit, and we believe the results speak for themselves.”

More information about Microsoft’s interoperability efforts can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/interop.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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