Microsoft Establishes Customer Council on Interoperability
June 13, 2006
Industry and government leaders to provide input on making technologies work better together.

REDMOND, Wash. — June 14, 2006 — Microsoft Corp. today announced that it has formed the Interoperability Customer Executive Council to identify areas for interoperability improvements across its products and the overall software industry. Customers are working in increasingly heterogeneous IT environments and asking for a greater level of interoperability from their IT vendors. Microsoft is committed to building bridges across the industry to deliver products to its customers that are interoperable by design.

“As part of our commitment to Trustworthy Computing, we design our products with interoperability in mind so our customers can connect to other platforms, applications and data easily,” said Bob Muglia, senior vice president of the Server and Tools Business at Microsoft. “The Interoperability Customer Executive Council will help us prioritize areas where we can achieve greater interoperability through product design, collaboration agreements with other companies, standards, and effective licensing of our intellectual property.”

The council, hosted by Muglia, will meet twice a year in Redmond, Wash. The council will have direct contact with Microsoft executives and product teams so it can focus on interoperability issues that are of greatest importance to customers, including connectivity, application integration and data exchange. Council members will include chief information officers (CIOs), chief technology officers (CTOs) and architects from leading corporations and governments. Representatives from Société Générale, LexisNexis, Kohl’s Department Stores, Denmark’s Ministry of Finance, Spain’s Generalitat de Catalunya and Centro Nacional de Inteligencia (CNI), and the states of Wisconsin and Delaware have joined as founding members.

Customers Identify Interoperability as a Key IT Priority

The adoption of disparate systems over time is a reality, but customers in the private and public sector still want to take advantage of the leading IT road maps going forward. Increasingly, businesses and governments are looking at interoperability in IT deployments to drive down costs and increase their access to information. Microsoft continues to work proactively with others in the industry, including competitors, to deliver innovative, interoperable technologies that meet the requirements of customers and the demands of the market.

“Within the different architectures of Société Générale IT, we are convinced that the best way to design flexible and adaptable IT solutions to answer the needs of our different business lines is to use technology designed with a commitment to interoperability between products, hardware, software and applications,” said Olivier de Bernardi, group chief technology officer at Société Générale. “With this in mind, we are quite interested to participate in this new program launched by Microsoft.”

“Going forward, LexisNexis and our parent company, Reed Elsevier Group plc, will depend heavily on the ease, consistency and trust of true secure interoperability of operating system and infrastructure foundation layers,” said Allan McLaughlin, senior vice president and chief technology officer at LexisNexis. “Our customers demand the best of our products, which involves working across various vendor environments to deliver superior solutions. We encourage all our vendors to take the necessary steps, as Microsoft is intending to do with this Council, to significantly improve the interoperability of the operating environment foundation.”

“It is important that technologies have interoperability designed into their architecture if they are to satisfy our business need for faster integration of systems,” said Jeff Marshall, chief information officer at Kohl’s Department Stores. “I appreciate Microsoft’s commitment to a dialogue around interoperability through this council, and it will definitely further the good work we have already started.”

“With the overall responsibility for the largest Microsoft Business Solutions installation globally, consisting of more than 600 instances of Microsoft Dynamics™ NAV, it is important to me to be able to timely understand and influence Microsoft’s direction on interoperability,” said Henrik Jeberg, chief information officer, AGM at the Danish Ministry of Finance. “We are pleased to be a part of this global council and look forward to contributing to higher overall interoperability in the industry.”

“Microsoft’s commitment to interoperability represents a key issue to accelerate the provision of real e-government services by public administrations, anywhere and anytime,” said Ignacio Alamillo, CATCert’s research director of Spain’s Generalitat de Catalunya. “Microsoft’s role as a key player in interoperability will help remove the main technical barriers to global e-government administrative services, reducing cost and time to market.”

“We welcome Microsoft’s initiative on interoperability to address both technical and policy requirements and the invitation to participate in the council,” said Luis Jimenez, subdirector adjunto del Centro Criptológico Nacional of Spain’s CNI. “The requirement to achieve interoperability between public administration agencies operating in an e-government context is of ever-increasing importance.”

Microsoft Invests in Interoperability

Microsoft is making long-term investments in interoperability. In February 2005, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates introduced “interoperable by design,” a concept based on Microsoft’s industry leadership in expanding the use of Extensible Markup Language (XML) and delivering technology that empowers customers by working with the applications and solutions they already have in place. Over the past 12 months, Microsoft has broadened its investments in interoperability and collaborated with both partner and competitive software and hardware companies when improving interoperability for shared customers benefits all parties. Recent examples include the following:

Interoperable software designed in Microsoft® Virtual Server 2005 R2 to support Linux guest operating systems and the royalty-free licensing of the Virtual Hard Drive (VHD) format to more than 45 vendors such as Akimbi, Brocade, Diskeeper, Fujitsu-Siemens, Network Appliance, Platespin, Softricity, Virtual Iron and XenSource.

Technical collaboration agreements with SAP AG, Hyperion Solutions Corp. and Sugar CRM Inc.; technical work underway in the Microsoft Open Source Software Lab; and dialogue about interoperability issues for Windows®, Linux, UNIX and open-source software on its community Web site, Port 25.

Intellectual property licensing deals with companies including NEC Corp., Toshiba Corp., Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications, Autodesk Inc. and Nokia.

Ongoing participation in, and support of, industry standards for improved data exchange and application integration in technologies such as Web services (Web Services Interoperability (WS-I) participation), financial and business transactions (electronic data interchange (EDI) interoperability and radio frequency identification (RFID) integration in Windows Vista™ and the 2007 Microsoft Office system), speech-enabled applications and Web sites (Speech Application Language Tags (SALT) and VoiceXML in Microsoft Speech Server 2007), and Web content (XHTML 1.0 in the 2007 Microsoft Office system).

“Interoperability helps customers trust that they are making the most out of their IT investments, and our work on interoperability is consistent with the approach we are taking on security and privacy,” Muglia said. “We are committed to interoperability for the long term, so watch this space.”

Additional information about Microsoft’s interoperability commitment may be found at http://www.microsoft.com/interop.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass on Microsoft’s corporate information pages. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may since have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/contactpr.mspx.


Representative Support for the Interoperability Customer Executive Council

“I have been working on interoperability issues for over 30 years as a law enforcement officer, and solving this problem is a priority of mine in Congress. Interoperability equally impacts governments, citizens and the private sector, and finding solutions demands that governments, vendors and customers work side by side. The private sector is often more innovative and adaptive than government, providing solutions to challenges that government cannot. Industry-led initiatives such as Microsoft’s are promising and are an important step in improving software and hardware interoperability and ultimately in making interoperable communication a reality.”

  • U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert
    R-Wash.

“Interoperability and reusability place demands on governments, citizens and the private sector; finding solutions requires that vendors and their customers must work side by side. That makes industry-led initiatives such as Microsoft’s promising when it comes to meeting customers’ needs and improving the effectiveness of software and hardware.”

  • Alan Bellinger
    Member
    U.K.’s National Computing Centre (NCC) and e-GIF Accreditation Authority

“Interoperability is one of the key issues facing the private sector, the government and the public, and finding solutions demands that vendors and customers work side by side. Intellect, the trade association for the U.K. hi-tech industry, warmly welcomes initiatives such as Microsoft’s Interoperability Executive Council, which seeks to meet customers’ needs by improving software and hardware interoperability.”

  • John Higgins
    Director General
    Intellect

“Interoperable hardware and software ultimately gives customers, businesses and governments the confidence to choose IT products that best meet their respective needs. Industry-driven efforts such as Microsoft’s customer council are encouraging steps toward greater interoperability among IT components.”

  • Ina Gudele
    Minister, Special Assignments for Electronic Government Affairs
    Republic of Latvia

“Interoperability is an important feature of our purchasing decisions as we seek to employ the IT technology that is best suited to our needs. Industry initiatives such as Microsoft’s are most welcome contributions to our efforts and promise to result in both increased productivity and cost savings.”

  • Jurij Bertok
    ICT Director, Ministry of Defense
    Republic of Slovenia

Read More: