Suns not the One
Suns not the One eWEEK: What about Sun [Microsystems Inc.]s Sun One initiative and the Liberty Alliance Project? Do they have any relevance for you?eWEEK: How about IBM and IBM Web Services? Cohen: We have a very nice relationship with IBM and IBM Global Services. We have many reseller deals going on with them. We were very early in Web services, somewhat pushed by Microsoft. BizTalk has a very nice interface to Web Services, so we got into publishing information assets. Well take a CICS screen and make a Web service out of it and put it in the repository. Very early, we got into using Web services to publish these non-obvious asset interfaces. And now were doing it for things other than the Microsoft repository [i.e. IBM]. eWEEK: Whats the significance of Web services to Information Builders and iWay? Cohen: Will Web services change the world? It has the biggest potential of anything that has come along in the last several years. Having a common API for Web services and less expensive communications [via the Internet] opens up a class of applications weve never had before. One example would be micro-credit applications. You get on a bus and you put your identity card in. It would be a smart card, but with different types of systems at the other end. Thats possible now with Web services. Im not going to predict it will happen. Ill predict its possible. Were at the early stages of Web services. Most technologies have about a seven-year life cycle. I think we are only in the first year or so of Web services. eWEEK: Is there anything you might correct or improve about Microsoft .Net? Cohen: Yeah, Id like to see it come out [laughter]. eWEEK: Youve already adopted some .Net standards, such as SOAP and .Net, into iWay. Cohen: I think SOAP 1.2 is one of the nice improvements. I think .Net is going to get a constituency. It may take a little time, but I think it has a real chance. eWEEK: Do you trust Microsoft to wield its influence fairly in Web services? Cohen: Yes, because they dont have it alone. Web services is a consortium. You have IBM and Sun. What will happen is that there will be specializing and privatizing. That happens with every standard. The first version that comes out is an agreed-upon standard. Maybe it goes to a second version. But after that, vendors specialize and take it in their own directions, and that could happen here. eWEEK: In other words, Microsoft could declare it part of the operating system at some point? Cohen: They could specialize in some way, like they were doing with Java. What they were doing with Java was putting their own extensions on it. Listen, IBM owns EBXML. Thats the No. 1 XML standard -- at least they own the patent to it. If they want to exercise control, they could. eWEEK: Some people say you may want to offer packaged analytic applications like CRM or supply chain analytics, along the lines of what Cognos and Business Objects are doing. Will you also go down that path? Cohen: No. You can assure them that were not. eWEEK: Why? Cohen: We dont have the expertise for that. Were not in that business. Its a specialty business. We do have partners who will take our products and build applications and you can buy them from our partners, but thats not our business. Rather than getting into the heavy analytics, were getting much more heavily into what were calling information delivery. Were not interested in the analytical part for the few, but in the benefits for the masses. You can get that kind of analysis with client/server; you dont need the Internet. The two companies you mentioned are essentially client/server companies. What were doing is trying to distribute information to thousands of people, outside the organization. Were seeing that companies that are distributing information to their partners and suppliers are, in general, leading their industries. Our goal is to help those guys distribute information. Weve only been able to do this for six years, because of the Internet -- cheap communication, easy-to-use browsers and the standards-based Internet. Talk to the customers They are thinking about sharing information with partners and suppliers. That to us is where the market is going.
Cohen: The truth is, we havent made any contact with Sun, for some reason. Maybe its their fault. Weve got relationships with almost everybody else.