Welcome!

Wireless Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Scott Hirsch, Trevor Parsons, Esmeralda Swartz, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: .NET, XML, SOA & WOA

.NET: Article

Bill Gates & Microsoft Herald "A New Generation of Software and Web Services"

Gates E-Mail Focuses On "Building Software That Is Interoperable By Design"

Bill Gates - a.k.a. William H. Gates III, Chairman and Chief Software Architect, Microsoft Corporation - writes: "Every day, businesses face an ongoing challenge of making a wide variety of software from many different vendors work together. It's crucial to success in streamlining business processes, getting closer to customers and partners, or making mergers and acquisitions successful.

This email, which you are receiving as a subscriber to executive emails from Microsoft, outlines the company's work to make its products interoperate well in a diverse IT environment.

Whether you are connecting with partners' systems, accessing data from a mainframe, connecting applications written in different programming languages or trying to log on across multiple systems, bringing heterogeneous technologies together while reducing costs is today a challenge that touches every part of the organization.

Over the years, our industry has tried many approaches to come to grips with the heterogeneity of software. But the solution that has proven consistently effective - and the one that yields the greatest success for developers today - is a strong commitment to interoperability. That means letting different kinds of applications and systems do what they do best, while agreeing on a common "contract" for how disparate systems can communicate to exchange data with one another.

Interoperability is more pragmatic than other approaches, such as attempting to make all systems compatible at the code level, focusing solely on adding new layers of middleware that try to make all systems look and act the same, or seeking to make different systems interchangeable. With a common understanding of basic protocols, different software can interact smoothly with little or no specific knowledge of each other. The Internet is perhaps the most obvious example of this kind of interoperability, where any piece of software can connect and exchange data as long as it adheres to the key protocols.

Simply put, interoperability is a proven approach for dealing with the diversity and heterogeneity of the marketplace. Today I want to focus on two major thrusts of Microsoft's product interoperability strategy: First, we continue to support customers' needs for software that works well with what they have today. Second, we are working with the industry to define a new generation of software and Web services based on eXtensible Markup Language (XML), which enables software to efficiently share information and opens the door to a greater degree of "interoperability by design" across many different kinds of software. Our goal is to harness all the power inherent in modern (and not so modern) business software, and enable them to work together so that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. We want to further eliminate friction among heterogeneous architectures and applications without compromising their distinctive underlying capabilities.

This may seem like an obvious approach, but the desire for interoperability is sometimes mixed up with other issues. For example, interoperability is sometimes viewed merely as adherence to a published specification of some kind, either from one or more vendors or a standards organization. But simply publishing a specification may not be enough, because it overlooks much of the hard work it takes to successfully develop interoperable products - namely, ensuring that the "contract" defined by a specification is successfully implemented in software and tested in a production environment.

Sometimes interoperability is also confused with open source software. Interoperability is about how different software systems work together. Open source is a methodology for licensing and/or developing software ? that may or may not be interoperable. Additionally, the open source development approach encourages the creation of many permutations of the same type of software application, which could add implementation and testing overhead to interoperability efforts.

Working With What You Have

Wholesale replacement of existing technologies is a tough sell for most organizations. They simply have too much invested in a variety of systems from any number of vendors. So, making new software work alongside existing systems is an ongoing customer need. Because of this, Microsoft has consistently invested in helping customers integrate our platform and applications with a broad array of popular (and even not so popular) hardware, software and networks.

As a result of these efforts, Microsoft offers a comprehensive portfolio of interoperability software capabilities, from the operating system to individual applications. Our software works with a vast array of technologies in the marketplace, whether they shipped last week or decades ago. Microsoft software can talk to mainframes and minicomputers from IBM and other manufacturers; other operating systems such as the Mac OS and various UNIXes including Linux; NetWare or AppleTalk networks and native Internet protocols; dozens of programming languages, ranging from COBOL and RPG, through C++ and Java, to the latest experimental languages; hundreds of databases including Oracle, Sybase and DB2; popular business applications like SAP or Siebel; vertical industry standards like SWIFT or HL7; email systems; and infrastructure products providing message queues, directory, management and security.

Many of Microsoft's products, such as Windows, Office, SQL Server, Exchange and Visual Studio, have significant functionality dedicated to interoperating with non-Microsoft products. Some of Microsoft's server products are focused squarely on interoperability, such as Host Integration Server for mainframe connectivity, BizTalk Server for heterogeneous integration across multiple applications, or Identity Integration Server, which helps simplify user authentication and management across diverse systems. These resulted from many years of working to understand customer needs and their existing environments.

While our investments in interoperability are mostly focused on the design of our software, we are also involved in work that contributes to interoperability across the industry. Microsoft participates in many formal and informal industry standards organizations to help define the specifications that are a prerequisite for interoperability. We publish APIs, protocols and software development kits, and license our underlying intellectual property associated with this technology, to help others deliver interoperable software. And we collaborate and share technology with a wide array of industry participants, some of them direct competitors, to deliver interoperability solutions that work well with our products.

In fact, in a recent survey by Jupiter Research, 72% of IT managers rated Microsoft technologies as the most interoperable within their existing environments. Similarly, for enhancing interoperability in the financial industry via Web services, Microsoft .NET was recently named by Waters magazine as the best business development environment. This successful approach to interoperability stems in large part from Microsoft's heritage as a personal computer company: we have always put a lot of emphasis on well-defined mechanisms for how different products from different companies interact, because of the incredible diversity of PC hardware and software. Without a commitment to interoperability, the industry, including Microsoft, would have been stopped in its tracks.

Using XML to Achieve "Interoperability by Design"

While Microsoft software supports an incredibly diverse array of interoperability mechanisms today, most of these are essentially unique efforts, each developed, tested and maintained individually to interoperate with a specific piece of hardware or software. The need to create individual solutions for each interoperability issue results in ever-increasing complexity. Customers and vendors - even companies of Microsoft's size - face resource limitations as they struggle to keep up with the documentation, testing and minute technical details required by this approach.

To address this issue, Microsoft has been working with the industry to advance a new generation of software that is interoperable by design, reducing the need for custom development and cumbersome testing and certification. These efforts are centered on using XML, which makes information self-describing - and thus more easily understood by different systems. For example, when two systems exchange a purchase order, the attributes of that purchase order are described in XML, so any receiving system can use that description to translate and use the enclosed information. This approach is also the foundation for XML-based Web services, which provide an Internet-based set of protocols for distributed computing. This new model for how software talks to other software has been embraced across the industry. It is the cornerstone of Microsoft .NET and the latest generation of our Visual Studio tools for software developers.

This approach is also evident in the use of XML as the data interoperability framework for Office 2003 and the Office System set of products. Office documents, spreadsheets and forms can be saved in an XML file format that is freely available for anyone to license and use. Office also supports customer-defined XML schema beyond the existing Office document types. This means two things: first, by supporting data in XML, customers can easily unlock information in existing systems and act upon it in familiar Office applications. Second, information created within Office can be easily used by other business applications.

The XML-based architecture for Web services, known as WS-* ("WS-Star"), is being developed in close collaboration with dozens of other companies in the industry including IBM, Sun, Oracle and BEA. This standard set of protocols significantly reduces the cost and complexity of connecting disparate systems, and it enables interoperability not just within the four walls of an organization, but also across the globe. In mid-2003, Forrester Research said that up to a "ten-fold improvement in integration costs will come from service-oriented architectures that use standard software plumbing." Forrester believes those improvements are realistic today. However, the definition of well-designed protocol architecture is just part of the challenge. As part of this collaborative effort, Microsoft and other companies have invested significant resources to ensure that Web services implementations from different companies really are interoperable. This has involved industry workshops, extensive testing, revision of specifications in the face of experience, and even setting up an industry body known as WS-I to help ensure interoperability.

Microsoft's interoperability investments to date have yielded significant benefits to customers and the industry. And we are well aware that we can do even more to help customers and partners achieve greater interoperability to meet their business needs. The foundation we are building with XML is already yielding significant reductions in the time, skill and cost required to integrate systems.

We also see a tremendous opportunity for developers and IT professionals to help usher in a new generation of software that is interoperable by design. We have launched a new Web site (http://www.microsoft.com/interop) that provides more details on the interoperability capabilities of our software. Please take a few moments to visit; you'll find technical information, Webcasts and events intended to help you get the most from your Microsoft products in a heterogeneous software environment.

Bill Gates"

[Received by SYS-CON's i-Technology News Desk from Bill Gates 2.3.05 as an Executive E-Mail]

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

Comments (18)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, will discuss how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money! Speaker Bio: Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, has spent 16 years as a marketing, product management, and busin...
Samsung VP Jacopo Lenzi, who headed the company's recent SmartThings acquisition under the auspices of Samsung's Open Innovaction Center (OIC), answered a few questions we had about the deal. This interview was in conjunction with our interview with SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson. IoT Journal: SmartThings was developed in an open, standards-agnostic platform, and will now be part of Samsung's Open Innovation Center. Can you elaborate on your commitment to keep the platform open? Jacopo Lenzi: Samsung recognizes that true, accelerated innovation cannot be driven from one source, but requires a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Red Hat, the world's leading provider of open source solutions, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Red Hat is the world's leading provider of open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to reliable and high-performing cloud, Linux, middleware, storage and virtualization technologies. Red Hat also offers award-winning support, training, and consulting services. As the connective hub in a global network of enterprises, partners, a...
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash Inc., will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone a...
BSQUARE is a global leader of embedded software solutions. We enable smart connected systems at the device level and beyond that millions use every day and provide actionable data solutions for the growing Internet of Things (IoT) market. We empower our world-class customers with our products, services and solutions to achieve innovation and success. For more information, visit www.bsquare.com.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Matrix.org has been named “Silver Sponsor” of Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Matrix is an ambitious new open standard for open, distributed, real-time communication over IP. It defines a new approach for interoperable Instant Messaging and VoIP based on pragmatic HTTP APIs and WebRTC, and provides open source reference implementations to showcase and bootstrap the new standard. Our focus is on simplicity, security, and supporting the fullest feature set.
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic • Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it’s a mix of architectural style...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SOA Software, an API management leader, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SOA Software is a leading provider of API Management and SOA Governance products that equip business to deliver APIs and SOA together to drive their company to meet its business strategy quickly and effectively. SOA Software’s technology helps businesses to accelerate their digital channels with APIs, drive partner adoption, monetize their assets, and achieve a...
From a software development perspective IoT is about programming "things," about connecting them with each other or integrating them with existing applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Yakov Fain, co-founder of Farata Systems and SuranceBay, will show you how small IoT-enabled devices from multiple manufacturers can be integrated into the workflow of an enterprise application. This is a practical demo of building a framework and components in HTML/Java/Mobile technologies to serve as a platform that can integrate new devices as they become available on the market.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Utimaco will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Utimaco is a leading manufacturer of hardware based security solutions that provide the root of trust to keep cryptographic keys safe, secure critical digital infrastructures and protect high value data assets. Only Utimaco delivers a general-purpose hardware security module (HSM) as a customizable platform to easily integrate into existing software solutions, embed business logic and build s...
Connected devices are changing the way we go about our everyday life, from wearables to driverless cars, to smart grids and entire industries revolutionizing business opportunities through smart objects, capable of two-way communication. But what happens when objects are given an IP-address, and we rely on that connection, sometimes with our lives? How do we secure those vast data infrastructures and safe-keep the privacy of sensitive information? This session will outline how each and every connected device can uphold a core root of trust via a unique cryptographic signature – a “bir...
Internet of @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley announced on Thursday its first 12 all-star speakers and sessions for its upcoming event, which will take place November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California. @ThingsExpo, the first and largest IoT event in the world, debuted at the Javits Center in New York City in June 10-12, 2014 with over 6,000 delegates attending the conference. Among the first 12 announced world class speakers, IBM will present two highly popular IoT sessions, which will take place November 4-6, 2014 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, Calif...
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
WebRTC defines no default signaling protocol, causing fragmentation between WebRTC silos. SIP and XMPP provide possibilities, but come with considerable complexity and are not designed for use in a web environment. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of the Matrix.org, will discuss how Matrix is a new non-profit Open Source Project that defines both a new HTTP-based standard for VoIP & IM signaling and provides reference implementations.

SUNNYVALE, Calif., Oct. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Spansion Inc. (NYSE: CODE), a global leader in embedded systems, today added 96 new products to the Spansion® FM4 Family of flexible microcontrollers (MCUs). Based on the ARM® Cortex®-M4F core, the new MCUs boast a 200 MHz operating frequency and support a diverse set of on-chip peripherals for enhanced human machine interfaces (HMIs) and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. The rich set of periphera...

SYS-CON Events announced today that Aria Systems, the recurring revenue expert, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Aria Systems helps leading businesses connect their customers with the products and services they love. Industry leaders like Pitney Bowes, Experian, AAA NCNU, VMware, HootSuite and many others choose Aria to power their recurring revenue business and deliver exceptional experiences to their customers.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to require a new way of thinking and of developing software for speed, security and innovation. This requires IT leaders to balance business as usual while anticipating for the next market and technology trends. Cloud provides the right IT asset portfolio to help today’s IT leaders manage the old and prepare for the new. Today the cloud conversation is evolving from private and public to hybrid. This session will provide use cases and insights to reinforce the value of the network in helping organizations to maximize their company’s cloud experience.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is making everything it touches smarter – smart devices, smart cars and smart cities. And lucky us, we’re just beginning to reap the benefits as we work toward a networked society. However, this technology-driven innovation is impacting more than just individuals. The IoT has an environmental impact as well, which brings us to the theme of this month’s #IoTuesday Twitter chat. The ability to remove inefficiencies through connected objects is driving change throughout every sector, including waste management. BigBelly Solar, located just outside of Boston, is trans...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Matrix.org has been named “Silver Sponsor” of Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Matrix is an ambitious new open standard for open, distributed, real-time communication over IP. It defines a new approach for interoperable Instant Messaging and VoIP based on pragmatic HTTP APIs and WebRTC, and provides open source reference implementations to showcase and bootstrap the new standard. Our focus is on simplicity, security, and supporting the fullest feature set.
Predicted by Gartner to add $1.9 trillion to the global economy by 2020, the Internet of Everything (IoE) is based on the idea that devices, systems and services will connect in simple, transparent ways, enabling seamless interactions among devices across brands and sectors. As this vision unfolds, it is clear that no single company can accomplish the level of interoperability required to support the horizontal aspects of the IoE. The AllSeen Alliance, announced in December 2013, was formed with the goal to advance IoE adoption and innovation in the connected home, healthcare, education, aut...