Blurring the Line Between Open Source & .NET

Software titan Microsoft is taking a significant step
toward appeasing the open source community by integrating its .NET Framework
into the Apache Web server, the world’s most popular
back-end software for
serving up Web pages.

Although Microsoft isn’t working directly with the Apache Software
Foundation, the Redmond, Wash., company has announced a deal with Covalent
Technologies, a San Francisco-based consulting firm that specializes in
Apache implementations throughout the enterprise. Under the deal, the
companies announced that Apache
, as available in
Covalent’s Enterprise Ready Server, is now compatible with Microsoft
ASP.NET — a server-side, object-oriented programming tool that is an
integral part of Microsoft’s .NET vision.

For Microsoft, the announcement, which was made at an open source
developer conference in
San Diego hosted by O’Reilly, demonstrates
how important Web services (and, hence, its
much-touted .NET Framework) has become. Supporting Apache flies directly in
the face of its own Internet Information Server , or IIS,
development efforts. But Microsoft still wants developers to adopt ASP.NET
code even if it means allowing them to turn to Apache at the expense of IIS.

“It’s a sign that ASP.NET is just that important to them,” said Jim
Zemlin, vice president of marketing at Covalent.

Traditionally, the operations side of an IT department has relied heavily
on Apache as opposed to IIS because of its greater security. However, with
the February release of Visual Studio
, IT developers have increasingly been creating programs that
obligated their operations counterparts to use IIS. That is, until today.

The combination of ASP.NET, Covalent’s Apache product, and Windows 2000
provides a strong enterprise solution allowing development and operations
groups to independently utilize technologies that meet their needs, Covalent
said in its prepared remarks.

The news comes a day after Microsoft promised to integrate .NET
applications with Oracle
. But Wednesday’s Apache announcement is the strongest signal
to date that Microsoft is trying to abide by its promise to promote
cross-platform integration.

“It’s good to hear Microsoft is going to work with [Apache], they
told us that cross-platform integration is big,” said Jay Pitzer, vice
president of sales and marketing at NetEdge Software, a Wake Forest,
N.C.-based consulting firm that uses .NET extensively for systems

As for undermining Microsoft’s own proprietary Web server software that also announced today along with its final preview version of its .NET Server, Pitzer explained that Microsoft is
simply realizing that is the cost of doing business.

“They realize that the world doesn’t revolve around them. In the big
enterprise, there are so many different types of systems and Microsoft has
done a great job to provide a platform for multiple platforms to engage each

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