Under pressure from corporate users, Microsoft has announced a new industry consortium aimed at tackling the problem of interoperability between software products. Surprisingly, one of the first vendors to sign up was Sun.
The Interop Vendor Alliance (IVA) was announced on Tuesday by Bob Muglia, Microsoft's vice president for servers and tools, at the company's TechEd/IT Forum conference in Barcelona.
So far, some 25 companies, including Sun and Microsoft, have joined the consortium. The aim of the consortium is to provide ways for companies to make their software work together. Other vendors in the consortium include Software AG, Siemens, Citrix, BEA Systems, CA, AMD, XenSource and Xcalia.
Sun and Microsoft have often been at odds over the years, culminating in a peace pact in 2004 when they agreed to settle various patent litigation.
Muglia cited the involvement of Sun as proof that the IVA could develop standards on the interoperation of software independently. He also claimed that the initiative took its cue from Microsoft's own users. "It's what our customers want," Muglia said.
"We have an executive council with a number of CIOs to talk to us about what they see as important in interoperability," Muglia said. "They are working with us in a taskforce that can look at what is going on in the world and respond in any way that is appropriate."
In these early days, much of the focus is around communications. "There are three main focuses of the alliance," said Jason Matusow, Microsoft's senior director for interoperability. "Firstly collaboration, with companies all opening up communications between the product groups, which then leads to testing among the companies. "
The final piece in the jigsaw is communications, Matusow said, "Communications is by blogging, so each of the vendors is updating the site with information."
Matusow also pointed to Sun's involvement, which included posting details of its decision to release Java under the GPL, as proof that the venture was independent. "You will see that already it is not just about Microsoft and its partners."