Microsoft and Internet systems integrator USWeb/CKS announced a broad partnership Tuesday that will see the companies work together to build a new framework for deploying and managing applications over the Internet.
As part of the alliance, Microsoft has agreed to spend $67.5 million over the next 12 months to develop the so-called iFrame system, and will invest $14.9 million directly into USWeb/CKS in exchange for a warrant to purchase 1 million shares at any time over the next five years.
The companies have worked together in the past to develop applications in the electronic commerce and Internet arenas, but this announcement pairs the firms closely in the emerging application service provider market. Application service providers host and deliver applications and data to businesses over the Internet.
"This takes our relationship to a new level," said Bill Anderson, director of Web application services at Microsoft, noting that the firms will jointly develop a technology lab at Microsoft's Redmond, Wash., campus to work on iFrame. USWeb/CKS has also agreed to certify at least 750 of its employees as Microsoft-certified system engineers or solution developers.
Alex Hawkinson, senior vice president of managed services at USWeb/CKS, said while Microsoft already offers a system to deliver applications over the Internet, through its Windows Distributed interNet Architecture 2000 platform, there are a number of issues that still need to be addressed.
It is difficult, for example, for companies to manage spikes in traffic loads unless they overbuild their infrastructure. Microsoft and USWeb/CKS want to look at ways to dynamically manage traffic spikes on the fly. "This is something that's going to evolve over time," Hawkinson said. The companies hope to roll out initial products and conduct pilots in the fourth quarter of 1999.
Microsoft can be reached at www.microsoft.com
USWeb/CKS can be reached at www.usweb.com