Does the Rational acquisition set IBM up to dominate the software industry?
Its an important acquisition to help extend our software business. And if you combine Rationals capabilities with the other products and capabilities we have, we believe we have the industry-leading portfolio.
Were clearly the biggest provider in middleware technologies and tools in the market. We are trying to define architectures that lead the industry with the kinds of applications we think businesses want to deploy. So we think were in a leadership position. Ive worked awfully hard to put all these pieces together to get it to this point. Theres a lot more to do, but its all part of the vision we had of the way applications could be if you have all the pieces working together properly.
Do you think Sun is now on track with the Web services standards, like WS-I?
Yes, we have always sought to have them involved. ... But this is my personal view [regarding Microsoft]. It takes two. I think [Suns Scott] McNealy threw the first punch quite a while ago with his anti-Microsoft rhetoric going back years. Its one of the root cause problems here. He sort of started it as not only a company battle, but almost a personal battle. It became a me versus Bill [Gates] sort of thing. Like "I was going to retire but I decided to stay to help make the world safe from Microsoft for my children." It just fueled all of this.
So what would be your message in terms of competing with Microsoft?
We compete with them on the nature of our infrastructure technology versus theirs. So we do Windows, we do a variety of Unixes, and we do IBM mainframe across our entire portfolio. We do scalable, reliable, secure, recoverable transactions. We have the ability to integrate systems from a process flow standpoint to do context passing and state-managed transaction flow across N-number of connected systems. We have an N-phased commit transaction engine in WebSphere that runs cross platform. I think when you look at the technology you can see very clear and distinct differentiation between the characteristic of what IBM delivers versus what Microsoft delivers. If the customer only wants simple connecting from a Windows system, calls from data somewhere else, or they want to initiate the system to do something and send them some data, well the basic connectivity/Web services technologies that were talking about here can cause a Windows systemwhich is uniquely .Netto cause those things to happen.
If you want those things to happen under transactional control, you now have a more interesting set of problems to deal with. If you attempt to do that in a Microsoft world, you come out of the newer .Net technologies and into COM [Microsofts Component Object Model] and leverage the COM services to provide a level of transactional control at that exit point off your Windows server.
And Ive yet to see a medium or large business process flow that you could anchor to a Windows front-end environment and have any sense of real process integrity to it. So in some respects because they remain so isolated to a single platform, a world that is buying into the idea of heterogeneity and multisystems, a world that demands that everything legacy be tied together is a challenging environment for them, because their principal focus has been on departmental two-tier client/server implementations. This new world is really a tough for them to adapt into. And standards are really the first step in that process. There are other questions to be answered in terms of the infrastructure they provide and whether or not they ever intend to take any code beyond the Windows environment. We dont know how you do these scenarios without having code running in multiple places.