Microsoft Forms Interoperability Vendor Alliance

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2006-11-14 Print this article Print

The move is designed to enhance interoperability between Microsoft and non-Microsoft systems across workflows and operational processes. Initial members include SugarCRM, Citrix, Kernel Networks, NetApp and Siemens Networks, but others can join.

BARCELONA, Spain—Microsoft has formed a new group, the Interoperability Vendor Alliance, to enhance interoperability between Microsoft and non-Microsoft systems across workflows and operational processes. Microsoft will announce the move at the IT Forum here at TechEd Europe on Nov. 14. The initial members of the vendor alliance are SugarCRM, Citrix Systems, Kernel Networks, Network Appliance and Siemens Networks, but membership will be open to others that want to join.
"This is just another example of how we are enabling interoperability around all the technologies we have," Andy Lees, Microsofts corporate vice president for server and tools marketing, told eWEEK in an interview.
Click here to read about SugarCRMs decision to use a Microsoft Shared Source license. "We wanted to formalize the process so that we can get interoperability feedback from other vendors, some of which will be partners, with others [being] competitors, so that we have a formal process whereby they can give us feedback on the areas in which they want better interoperability," Lees said. The initial areas of focus will include common interoperability challenges like cross-platform systems management, single sign-on, data presentation, portal integration, storage and identity management, he said. "Over the last 18 months we have made interoperability a big focus in terms of making our products as interoperable as possible, [working on] utilization standards and advancing these where they dont exist," Lees said. The formation of a vendor alliance follows the June announcement of Microsofts Interoperability Executive Customer Council, which held its first meeting recently. Read more here about Microsofts Interoperability Executive Customer Council. It also comes hot on the heels of the set of broad collaboration agreements announced between Microsoft and Novell on Nov. 2 to build, market and support a series of new solutions designed to make Novell and Microsoft products work better together. The two companies also announced an agreement to provide each others customers with patent coverage for their respective products. These agreements will be in place until at least 2012. "I think we are continuously surprising people, but it is only surprising if you believe the competitive rhetoric. We have historically had a very good track record on interoperability, enabling people to get access to their data from other systems and making protocols and APIs available," Lees said. But not everyone is convinced Microsoft is committed to true interoperability, with some in the open-source community remaining skeptical about the companys intentions. Asked if Microsoft would be spending a lot of time promoting the alliance with Novell, particularly given the popularity of Linux in Europe and the fact that Novells SUSE Linux is the dominant player in the region, Lees said that while it would be discussed, Microsoft would not be focusing on the subject at the IT Forum event. "While Bob [Muglia, Microsofts senior vice president for servers and tools,] plans on mentioning this in his opening keynote on Nov. 14, we dont plan on explaining it blow by blow. The people in the audience want to know about our technical road map and there is so much coming out that we plan to spend most of the time on that," he said. But Microsoft is aware that those of its customers also using Linux want to know about subjects like virtualization and if the company has a good technical interoperability strategy with companies like Novell to make sure this works well, Lees said. Can Windows and open source learn to play nice? Click here to read more. "Interoperability is important to them, so we will talk about it from a more technical point of view," Lees said. Check out eWEEK.coms 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


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel