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Created: December 02, 2004.
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Sun Microsystems and Microsoft Provide Progress Report on Technical Collaboration Agreement.

"`et milhamah we-`et shalom, a time for war and a time for peace" — Qohelet

On December 1, 2004, Microsoft Corporation and Sun Microsystems held a joint on-the-record open teleconference to report on the status of collaborative efforts toward interoperable computing solutions based upon terms of a Technical Collaboration Agreement concluded by the two companies in April 2004. The companies confirmed their commitment to address the needs of their mutual customers, endeavoring to improve "interoperability across product lines, which in turn will reduce costs, improve reliability and enable customers to focus more on their core business instead of on IT integration initiatives."

The meeting was opened with a statement from by With Greg Papadopoulos (Chief Technology Officer, Sun Microsystems), who has provided a summary Question and Answer document on the Sun web site. He was joined by Hank Vigil (Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Consumer Strategy and Partnerships), Andrew Layman (Director of Distributed Systems Interoperability, Microsoft), and John Shewchuck (Distributed Systems Architect, Microsoft).

Excerpts from the Progress Report

"While the companies remain competitors, there are key areas where we now are working together. In the eight months since the landmark 10-year agreement between the two companies, we have seen good progress in a number of areas, including: Web services, storage solutions, and the use of Windows on Sun.

Through outreach and dialogue with customers, the companies recognize that accelerating the use of Web services for interoperability between our platforms is a top customer request. To that end, working with other partner companies, Sun and Microsoft have co-authored four important Web services specifications in the last six months. These are WS-Addressing (submitted to W3C), WS-Eventing, WS-MetadataExchange and WS-Management.

The companies are driving to improve the customer experience through a more formalized business relationship. Sun is working with Microsoft to provide a more seamless way for customers to resolve technical issues between products and to establish a Competency Center in Redmond that enables Sun to do in-depth testing of real-world applications.

Significant progress has been made in achieving greater interoperability between our current products. Sun has achieved VeriTest certification for Sun Java System Directory Server Enterprise Edition, Sun Java System Access Manager and Sun Java System Identity Manager, running reliably on Windows Server. Sun is working hard to complete a plan to validate Access Manager and Identity Manager functionality in identity management scenarios using Microsoft's Active Directory as the directory for user credentials. In other current product areas, Microsoft and Sun worked together to ensure that the release of Windows XP SP2 was interoperable with the latest Java Runtime Environment and the StarOffice productivity suite.

As it phases out support for the Microsoft Java Virtual Machine, Microsoft is pointing to Sun's JVM for customers wanting Java on Windows. Microsoft is working with Sun as well as other ISV partners to ensure that their products run well on the Windows platform.

The companies have worked to establish great communication at all levels from regular meetings at the executive level to in-depth working sessions with our engineers. Each company has dedicated relationship managers who meet weekly with their counterparts to check progress and resolve issues, and our architects and technical teams are meeting on a weekly basis. There have been fifteen (15) executive meetings in the past five months. Two dozen engineers are meeting face-to-face monthly to discuss specific technical issues. Top executives have also reached out to customers to help the companies focus their work together on what customers need."

Excerpts from the Teleconference Transcript

Greg Papadopoulos (Sun): "Now, one thing for me that I have found really refreshing in this whole alliance has been the fact that the companies actually end up being more similar than different in terms of value of intellectual property, how we approach R&D, that we fundamentally believe that customer problems get solved by inventing things and building products.

We've gone to some great lengths to establish a broad intellectual property framework, including a Technical Collaboration Agreement that considers licensing of protocols in our company's client and server product, operating systems for implementation in our products and we're tracking these milestones through systematic reviews between sea-level executives, including Bill and myself, and are focusing first on sort of interoperability and joint technical issues.

So we have two immediate goals. First is that we're working on Web service specifications. These really help future products out of the box be interoperable. Second, we are exploring sort of the basic common sense approaches that let the existing product set that we have work well together and give our customer the assurances that they work well together and take that problem off of their plate..."

Andrew Layman (Microsoft): "... we find that there's actually a lot of superficial differences, there can be a lot of commonality. And, particularly in the area of standards, yes, there are a lot of standards out there, and there are a lot of those standards that are implemented by our companies, but what I think you're seeing a change in is that at this point we've found it a lot easier for both of our companies to work together to figure out what those standards should be, to work together in designing them in a way that works pretty well for both of us, and considering that we come from historically some fairly different parts of the industry, I think that's a pretty signal accomplishment at being able to throw a bridge over some different parts of the industry...

"There's a lot more work to be done, but as you can see across the gamut of Web services, we've found a lot of common interests. Our interests go into some other areas as well. Java is pretty important to our customers, and as you know Microsoft is not going to be issuing new versions of the Java Virtual Machine. That product is stable right now for users who require Java, Microsoft provides a rather, Sun provides a JVM that runs well on Windows, and we think that that's a great choice for customers. And we work well with Sun, we're working closely with Sun to make sure that Sun's products this is as we work with all of our vendors, we're working hard with Sun to make sure that the Sun JVM works really well on Microsoft platforms.

Now, another area is identity. When we talk to our customers, probably the No. 1 item that customers said they wanted to be sure that our two companies worked closely on was on the identity space. And so, we've thought about this, and we agree that browser authentication is an area where we could probably do some great work jointly. There's concern among our customers, a relationship between Web services and the Liberty efforts, and we've identified browser authentication as an area where we think that we can probably do some great joint work. We don't have something to announce right now, but you should read this as, we get the message, both of us, and we know it's really important, and we're actively at work thinking out how we can solve that.

So, this is a list, a long list of areas where our two companies are lined up well with each other, and have a lot of discussion going on, and where we've achieved some concrete results, particularly in the Web services area, and where we're developing a lot more results. As I look back over the last eight months, and contrast it with almost anything proceeding, I feel really good about this relationship..."

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