Interop In The News

So, it is pathetic that I have not posted to my blog since the middle of March. I have been receiving nasty-grams in mail from friends asking when I was going to get off my butt and start writing again. That would be today. 

I'm down at Interop Las Vegas and have been working with a number of groups around the company on getting some announcements made at the show. While the individual news items are of interst to technologists - the thing I want to focus on is the breadth of the work and what it underscores about inteorp in general.

First, the news from the show:

1) In the Network Access Control world, Microsoft and Juniper made a joint announcement about interop between Juniper's Unified Access Control (UAC) and Microsoft's Network Access Protection (NAP). Also, Microsoft and Trusted Computing Group (TCG) announced that the TCG Trusted Network Connect architecutre will adopt Microsoft's NAP Statements of Health protocols. Read more here. Read an interview with Henry Saunders here. Read about Juniper's announcement here.

2) Microsoft and 12 communications companies (think phones and VOIP) are working togehter to drive interop between software-based unified communications and traditional PBX and IP-PBX systesm. Read more here.

3) We announced a series of activities to promote interop in the Identity Metasystem. Client-side, the inclusion of the Identity Selector Interoperability Specification under the OSP further encourages the creation of interoperable identity selectors across platforms. For websites becoming "identity aware" we have 4 open source projects (more in future posts) for Java, PHP, C, and Ruby to be consumed by website and webservice developers. And we are kicking off a project to build a 2-way synchronizaiton connector for the MS Identity Lifecycle Manager (used to be MIIS) for AD and OpenLDAP. Read more here.

What is the take-away:

I have talked at length with audiences all around the world, and on my blog, that interoperability is about more than open standards. It is about multiple factors and these announcements are all because of that approach to interop.  When I sit with a product team to think about interop - or address it as a policy or business strategy issue - it has to be all about the broader picture. If you consider the complexity involved with what it takes to trust that someone's online identity is credible in a world of hetergenous computing - then interoperability is by definition part of the discussion. If, though, you stopped at the point where the only factor that mattered is whether or not it is based on open standards, then you will end up with good rhetoric but bad interoperability. Implementations matter. Who you choose to work closely with is another big factor. The role of IP is significant. And, the standards that get set (and supported) are part of the picture.

I know that the media buzz on other issues is far hotter at the moment than interop concerns - but to me, this is still a fundamental issue about the future of computing. As it was pointed out to me yesterday, the first billion people are online. Now comes the hard part...the next 5 billion. I'm guessing they are going to come online via heterogenous systems and interop is going to be central to enabling that to happen.