Microsoft gives interoperability progress report

Different organizations are focused on issues in multiple technology areas, including security, systems management, and collaboration

Microsoft is offering updates Wednesday on the progress of interoperability initiatives, including the Interoperability Executive Customer Council (IEC) and the Interop Vendor Alliance (IVA).

The company's announcement is "a way of taking stock after a year of fairly intensive activity," said Tom Robertson, Microsoft general manager for interoperability and standards.

Formed last year, the IEC features 41 members from governments and corporations who work with Microsoft executives and product teams. IEC is meeting in Redmond, Wash. this week.

According to Microsoft, IEC has addressed more than 60 issues in its four defined work streams, which include:

* Office productivity and collaboration tools to ensure that tools can exchange documents and enable collaboration and document management across systems

* Developer tools and run time, in which application development has been boosted across platforms and systems

* Security and identity management with the promoting of security across many identity platforms

* Systems management through enabling end-to-end, cross-platform service management

Highlights in security and ID management include Microsoft collaboration with industry partners Fraunhofer-Institute FOKUS, ThoughtWorks, and Zend Technologies to develop open-source interoperability projects on information cards for Sun's Java language, Ruby, PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor), and C-module. These initiatives will give users better control over personal information on the Web, Microsoft said.

"We're ultimately trying to provide people with better control over their personal information on the Web and improve the trustworthiness of Web-based interaction," Robertson said.

In the system management area, Microsoft acquired enterprise management company Engyro to incorporate monitoring products into Microsoft Systems Center Operations Manager 2007.

The IVA, launched in November 2006, discusses mutual customer feedback and focuses on technical collaboration to resolve interoperability challenges through scenario-based testing, Microsoft said. Companies like Linspire, Sun, and AMD participate.

At the Interop New York 2007 conference this week, an IVA pavilion will showcase collaborations, such as EMC, CA, and Microsoft streamlining management of heterogeneous systems, including Linux, Oracle, JBoss, and Windows. This is being done via a Systems Management Interoperability Lab.

Also, IVA members Centrify, Quest Software, and Microsoft worked to demonstrate how to centrally manage security identities across Linux, Unix, Mac OS X, and Windows. Cross-product federation is being demonstrated as well by several members as part of a federated identity initiative.

To advance portal document repository collaboration, IVA members Merido, Microsoft, and others have shown how to identify and collaborate on documents across portals and repositories.

Also, Microsoft began working to deliver interoperability by design based on commitment to XML in 2005. Since then, the company has announced more than 30 interoperability deliverables including moving dozens of specifications to the OSP (Open Specification Promise), interoperability projects like Linux and Windows virtualization and management work being done by Microsoft and Novell, Microsoft said.

Microsoft is announcing on Wednesday that OSP is being extended to hypercall API in Windows Server Virtualization. This applies virtualization to further enable interoperability across commercial and open-source software solutions, Microsoft said.

Microsoft's interoperability efforts have not been without criticism. A deal with Novell on interoperability between Suse Linux and Windows, featuring payments going between the two companies, has drawn criticism in the open-source community as a concession to Microsoft.

Robertson said Microsoft has made a lot of progress with interoperability, detailing with issues that are not universally easy to address. But he acknowledged not every single issue will be solved.

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