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Microsoft and interoperability: oxymoron or secret soul mate?

There are many out there who would argue that the words Microsoft and interoperability should never be seen in the same sentence. Certainly, for those who have installed Vista only to find that their printer, wireless keyboard or other peripheral are rendered driver-less, it would be a hard one to argue convincingly.
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Written by Adrian Bridgwater on

There are many out there who would argue that the words Microsoft and interoperability should never be seen in the same sentence. Certainly, for those who have installed Vista only to find that their printer, wireless keyboard or other peripheral are rendered driver-less, it would be a hard one to argue convincingly.

Microsoft itself has formed departments with specialists who focus on ‘baked-in’ interoperability and the company says (I’ve met a few of ‘em at Tech.Ed Europe events) that it remains focused on getting partners and programming ‘practitioners’ everywhere to buy into its messages and help develop complementary technologies.

Of course, Microsoft has recently posted a large amount of protocol documentation on the MSDN to ensure open connection routes to its high-volume products are clearly defined. But is it enough?

So, where are we up to at the moment? Well, latest (that I’ve heard of) to jump on the ‘interop’ bandwagon is Iona whose Artix mainframe and integration products have been bundled for Microsoft interoperability.

Iona’s press- and customer-facing materials are can be difficult to digest, but if you take plenty of Rennie (or Tums or Pepto-Bismol) and can get through the “seamlessly extending connectivity” and other unnecessary gung-ho malarkey, there may be something of use here.

Think Microsoft – think Microsoft partner – and your next stop should be Windows Communication Foundation (WCF). I know I’m towing the corporate line here, but I’m just trying to point in the right direction.

So to give them their due… Artix Connect for WCF enables companies to ‘optimise’ (eek!) their investments in Microsoft technology and extend connectivity (yikes! – there it is) with legacy applications from within the Microsoft Visual Studio development environment. Enterprise organisations can, allegedly, integrate their MS apps with non-Microsoft platforms from BEA, IBM, Oracle, TIBCO and also with CORBA based applications. By wrapping back-office legacy systems behind standards-based Web Services Description Language (WSDL) interfaces, Artix Connect for WCF allows (shouldn’t that be ‘enables’?) the .NET developer to connect with Java or CORBA without the need for custom adapters or new code generation.

Wanna know how companies working in this space try to convey their messages? It’s not websites and the usual marketing morsels; it’s white papers and weighty analysis pieces with titles like “The principles of interoperability”. Does this convey the extra gravitas of the situation? Maybe, I guess. Am I being deliberately sceptical? Yeah, kinda – is that a problem?

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