The key to interoperability

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2004-02-03 Print this article Print

? Applications."> The survey also found that "applications and not standards are the key focus for interoperability." Some 65 percent of respondents said that integrating existing applications is more important when developing new IT platforms than security (48 percent) and supporting industry standards (44 percent). Respondents also said that financial applications (33 percent) and portal development (32 percent) are the most important applications with which new technologies need to interoperate, while 55 percent said Web services standards are preferred for fostering interoperability.
Co-operation among applications was cited as the No. 1 challenge of interoperability, with 21 percent of respondents adding that Web services across different environments is a key challenge.
Martin Taylor, Microsofts general manager of platform strategy, told eWEEK in an interview on Tuesday that the studys finding showed the company is "on the right approach by focusing on application-level interoperability." "It also shows the market recognizes that historically we have done a good job in facilitating and providing a certain level of interoperability and that this is directly related to TCO. It also shows that portability is not really something our key customers are interested in," Taylor said. "So, while it hasnt really changed anything from Microsofts perspective, it has helped verify and given us a level of clarity on the direction and focus we need to be on," he said, taking a swipe at IBM by saying the survey had "also exposed IBM a little bit as it shows customers arent looking for people to come and do a lot of the plumbing work, they want technology to do that." To read more about Martin Taylor, Microsofts new "Joe Friday" and his spin on open-source competition, click here. Anthony Roby, a partner at Accenture, the global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company based in New York, was not surprised by the surveys results. He told eWEEK in an interview that the fact that the respondents were not focusing on the low-level technical interoperability mirrored what the company was hearing from its customers. Tyson Hartman, director of .Net solutions at Seattle-based Avanade Inc., the global technology integrator for Microsoft enterprise solutions, agreed, telling eWEEK that the firms interoperability work is data- and applications-focused and so the survey results were not surprising. But the interoperability challenge going forward will be getting application vendors, customers and platform providers to really understand what is meant by interoperability versus integration, he said. "The focus today, the mindset of people today, is integration: how I get my Java system talking to my .Net system, rather than how I get the services that are contained within an application to interoperate with services contained in another application, as the world will continue to be heterogeneous and you will not be able to tightly bind different systems," Hartman said. "One of the biggest challenges is getting into the mindset of what it means to be interoperable and how you build systems and business processes in that environment," Hartman added. Accentures Roby said the challenge for interoperability going forward will be dependent on application vendors providing and exposing more interoperability capabilities on their own platforms. Discuss This in the eWEEK Forum

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


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