Bill Gates and IBM Software chief Steve Mills stood together here last week to demonstrate for the first time reliable messaging and secure, authenticated Web services transactions across a federated, heterogeneous environment.
Gates, Microsoft Corp.s chief software architect and chairman, and Mills, IBM Software Groups senior vice president and group executive, also announced that the companies plan to take the specifications used to make the demonstration happen to open- standards bodies soon and that they will not seek royalties for the specs.
The demo was based on an auto dealer/parts scenario that comprised three partners—a dealer, parts supplier and parts manufacturer. Behind the scenes was a high-tech cocktail of IBMs DB2 and WebSphere and Microsofts SQL Server and .Net.
The auto dealer was notified upon logging on of a windshield wiper shortage. The crowd followed as the dealer proceeded to place an order with the supplier, who in turn placed an order with the manufacturer.
It sounds simple enough, but the underpinnings of the demonstration were actual Web services applications, developed with specs such as WS-Coordination (Web Services Coordination) and WS-AtomicTransactions, both of which were created by IBM and Microsoft, along with BEA Systems Inc. Other specs put to work at the demonstration were WS-Federation and WS-Reliable Messaging.
The benefits to business, said Gates and Mills, are that such a Web services infrastructure enables single sign-on, increases flexibility, allows customers to leverage their business infrastructures, and allows for interoperability across multiple vendors products and platforms.
"For basic Web services, thats been done," Gates said. "What youre seeing here for the first time is a heterogeneous case, with IBM in half the systems and Microsoft on the other half of the systems."
To help drive the specs further, the companies will take them to workshops over the next few months. But the companies have not yet decided to which standards bodies they plan to submit the specs.
But theres much more work to be done, Mills said.
"Were not declaring victory, but were showing people the goal line," he said.