Interview

Interoperability through customerfocused focused approach : Chris Levanes, Platform Strategy MaNager,asIa PaCIfIC regIoN, MICrosoft

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“Microsoft takes a customer-focused approach to enabling interoperability, and delivering innovative interoperable solutions that connect people, data and diverse systems. The Microsoft-Novell collaboration agreement would forge a new model to enhance interoperability between Windows and Linux. By working together, Novell and Microsoft enable customers to choose the operating system that best fits their applications and business needs,” reveals ChrIs LevaNes, PLatforM strategy MaNager, asIa PaCIfIC regIoN, MICrosoft, in an interview to PraChI shIrur of egov

  Q What is the impact of the recent collaboration between Microsoft and Novell on Windows and Linux Interoperability and support on the open source movement?

A Microsoft takes a customer-focused approach to enabling interoperability and is committed to meeting customer and market needs by designing interoperable products and services. Whether it is sharing data between applications written in different programming languages or trying to log on across multiple systems, Microsoft is focused on delivering innovative interoperable solutions that connect people, data and diverse systems. The Microsoft-Novell collaboration agreement improves interoperability and enables choice. This agreement forges a new model to enhance interoperability between Windows and Linux.

This agreement also provides each company’s customers with patent coverage for their respective products. As a result of this broad collaboration,customers would realise increased efficiencies, greater choice and flexibility. The industry, including the open source community, would also benefit through increased intellectual property (IP), peace of mind and innovative and competitive products. By working together, Novell and Microsoft enable customers to choose the operating system that best fits their applications and business needs.

  How will this collaboration impact the government, especially in Asian countries, who find deploying open source and propriety software/interoperability a huge challenge?

Today, businesses and governments are increasingly meeting their IT needs by selecting the best software from multiple vendors, including proprietary and open source vendors.Improved interoperability continues to be a desired feature because they are operating mixed computing environments.Similarly, customers are increasingly concerned about the IP issues associated with the software they deploy, especially open source software.Microsoft and Novell are focused on aligning our interests with those customers, and we have come together to address these two areas of concern. We believe this would create new and exciting technology and business opportunities for our companies, customers, and the software industry.

  At the same time, how will this effort to bridge the gap between Windows and Linux help in smoother and faster citizen to government and business to government transactions?

This collaboration is a testament to Microsoft and Novell’s realistic understanding of businesses and government’s IT environment and challenges in which they may be deploying both open source and proprietary software. We believe our joint approach would allow governments to more efficiently meet the needs of their citizens by lowering costs and simplifying operations.We understand that interoperability is almost as important a feature as security and reliability when governments and other customers make purchasing decisions. With this collaboration, we are excited about being able to help governments work towards improving business to government as well as citizen to government exchanges and transactions.

  Microsoft and Novell have also made an agreement to provide each other’s customers with patent coverage for their respective products. What all does this agreement entail, please tell us briefly.

The patent agreement demonstrates that Microsoft is willing to enter into agreements that extend its patent protection to open source customers. This is an important foundation in building the bridge between proprietary and open source software.

One of the biggest perceived differences between open and closed source software revolves around intellectual property. However, some have expressed concern thatintellectual property protections could be compromised more easily in open source because open source software is developed in a cooperative environment. This agreement provides confidence on intellectual property for Novell and Microsoft customers. By mutually agreeing not to assert their patent rights against one another’s customers, the two companies give customers greater peace of mind regarding the patents in the solutions they are deploying. Novell and Microsoft believe that this arrangement makes it possible to offer customers the highest level of interoperability with the assurance that both companies stand behind these solutions.

Today, businesses and governments are increasingly meeting their IT needs by selecting the best software from multiple vendors, including proprietary and open source vendors. Improved interoperability continues to be a desired feature because they are operating mixed computing environments. Similarly, customers are increasingly concerned about the IP issues associated with the software they deploy, especially open source software. Microsoft and Novell are focused on aligning our interests with those customers, and we have come together to address these two areas of concern

  Please tell us briefly some of the future plans of Microsoft and Novell towards helping governments to meet the needs of their citizens more efficiently.

Microsoft believes that interoperability between vendors promotes a vibrant and thriving economy and ICT ecosystem. Microsoft works very hard at fostering interoperability in a variety of ways. The primary focus is on designing products that interoperate out of the box, so that customers do not need consultants to make them work and interoperate. The creation of tools is also done, which enable others to create interoperable products. Microsoft provides license and cross-license IP to enable interoperability in its products and third-party products. In fact, licensing IP has become a routine part of doing business, and enable vendors to be more efficient in their designs by leveraging the innovations of others and building on top of that.  Microsoft participates in, contributes to, and implements hundreds of standards to enable  interoperability. More recently, Ecma ratified our Open XML file formats used in Office as a  standard. We created the Open XML Formats Developer Group, and helped form the Interop  Vendor Alliance (http:// interopvendoralliance.org). This is a great example of Microsoft  responding to customer needs and standardising technology when it makes sense. Finally, we  focus a lot of our energy in working with the industry, including governments, competitors,  and open source companies to meet customer interoperability needs.

To put the overall collaboration in context, this announcement is one in a series of numerous technology collaboration agreements Microsoft has done over the past several years with partners and competitors such as Unisys, Sun, Yahoo!, Nokia, SAP and EMC, as well as open source companies such as JBoss, SugarCRM, XenSource, and Zend. It is also one in a series of numerous efforts where Microsoft is providing access to its technologies to enable interoperability and meet customer needs, including the open source project for the development of Microsoft Office OpenXML and OpenDocument file format translators, the availability of 35 Web Services Specifications, SenderID, the Virtual Hard Disk Specifications, and the OpenXML Specification under the Open Specification Promise (OSP), and the submission and approval of OpenXML as an Ecma International standard.

Microsoft would be continuing these types of industry-leading efforts in the future to ensure our products are meeting the interests of Governments  and their citizens.  

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