In my last post, I mentioned the six IEC Council work streams. Office Productivity and Collaboration Tools, Developer Tools and Runtime, Systems Management, Security and Identity Management, Business Process Modeling, and Public Interoperability Policy. Here is a little more about each one.
Work stream #1 Office Productivity and Collaboration Tools
Major interoperability scenarios discussed under this work stream are around Office file formats, Office programmability and automation, Document and Content Management Servers, Backend and Line-of-Business Apps integration, etc. Customers want their information workers to be able to use a variety of tools to manipulate back-end data in a collaborative and intuitive way to help make business decisions and to easily process business documents, etc. They also want to exchange documents across systems and platforms and manipulate those using well-documented APIs and protocols. They need to feed backend data (from databases and Line-of-Business apps) into Office documents.
Many customers are using more than one content and document management server collaboratively in their organizations or with their partners. They want to integrate Search, UI, metadata, content management, personalization and taxonomy across multiple portals.
Other interoperability scenarios are around email and calendar interoperability, instant messaging, chatting, online meetings and information rights protection.
Work stream #2 Developer Tools and Runtime
Developers want the ability to use different development tools in a distributed environment. They want to be able to develop software applications using a mix and match of various tools and programming languages and manage the whole process using some common repositories and business processes.
Demand for protocol level interoperability between .NET and Java/Mainframe apps is also very high. There is also some demand for binary interoperability between the .NET and Java/Mainframe stacks in some instances.
Work stream #3 Business Process Modeling
Here we discuss how to facilitate design, development and management of business processes to run across multiple platforms and systems, with the ability to use different tools and frameworks in an interoperable way to do architecture modeling and implementation. There are many interoperability challenges and we are trying to understand how models (and modeling tools) are used in different organizations, what their lifecycle is and what standards are important for data and model interchange, etc.
Work stream #4 Public Interoperability Policy
The goals of this work stream are to guide Microsoft in its application of Interoperability Principles and inform public policy positions related to innovation, interoperability, privacy and security. Basic discussions have been around how Microsoft can clarify its interoperability strategy and foster interoperable systems thru technology, licensing, documentation, partner ecosystem and other means.
Work stream #5 Systems Management
Major scenarios discussed under this work stream are around IT operations management, deployment and patching of software, virtualization environments, etc. IT operations want to optimize management of heterogeneous enterprise environments while providing top-notch service to users based on their SLAs. Examples are how you use monitoring products from various vendors and make them work together to provide a reliable, integrated management experience in their data centers, use virtualization for consolidating servers and improving utilization of data centers, and automate software deployment, patching and asset inventory across their environments to lower total cost of ownership.
Examples of how the council is guiding product teams to add interoperability features will be shown in the upcoming release of Systems Center products which will contain support for managing VMWare environments in the Virtual Machine Manager and will have new connectors in Operations Manager for other 3rd party tools.
Work stream #6 Security and Identity Management
Major interoperability scenarios include identity federation for providing secure access to internal resources to partners and customers, single sign-on techniques, user-centric and claims-based authentication approaches (like infocards/CardSpace) for identity management through 3rd party providers and relying parties, and ActiveDirectory-LDAP integration etc. Other scenarios are around synchronization of items and passwords, etc., across multiple directories like ActiveDirectory and LDAP. Scenarios where applications need to continue working when one of the directories is inaccessible, by switching over transparently to get required info from another fail-over directory, were also discussed. Customers also want to streamline the process of user provisioning and want to be able to delegate that work to selected partners in some scenarios.
I hope this information will provide some insight into the practical methods Microsoft is employing to deliver on interoperability principles and standards, and I welcome your input to the Interoperability Forum.
Principal Program Manager
Interoperability Technical Strategy