Microsoft in Open Source Partnership

UPDATED: Microsoft and JBoss announced a cooperation agreement on Tuesday in what is Microsoft’s first official embrace of open source.

Under the agreement, the two companies will “explore” ways to enhance the interoperability between JEMS and Microsoft Windows Server products. Another goal is to enable JEMS to better support the Windows Server operating system.

Bill Hilf, director of platform technology strategy at Microsoft, told that, while the collaboration will be similar to those the company has done with other ISVs, this is the first time Microsoft has worked with a vendor of open source software.

“The win from Microsoft’s perspective is the realization that there are all sorts of business and development models that are having success on Windows,” Hilf said. “Even open source companies are finding that same success.”

The JBoss Enterprise Middleware System (JEMS) is an open source enterprise middleware platform comprised of up to 12 individual open source projects: JBoss Application Server, EJB 3.0, Hibernate, Javassist, JBoss AOP, JBoss Cache, JBoss IDE, JBoss jBPM, JBoss Mail, JBoss Portal, JGroups and Tomcat.

According to Shaun Connolly, vice president of product management at JBoss, a recent customer survey showed that nearly half of the company’s customer base deploys JEMS on Windows Server. “Many are running multiple operating system environments,” he said.

Many JEMS customers run the middleware on top of Microsoft Windows Server, so better integration could make the software run smoother and provide more features.

The technology engagement between the two companies will likely include work on Microsoft Active Directory integrated sign-on and federated identity, as well as interoperability using WS-Web services architecture. They also will write a robust JEMS management pack for Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM), enabling JEMS customers to manage the applications using MOM.

While there are products available today that let enterprise users of non-Windows software take advantage of integrated sign-on via Active Directory, Connolly said, the two companies want to make that a lot easier for customers.

The companies will work to optimize performance for users of Hibernate, JBoss’ object/relational mapping technology, and Enterprise JavaBeans 3.0, as well.

Technical teams from Microsoft and JBoss will work in Redmond and begin the integration tasks with Windows Server 2003, Hilf said, “because that’s what customers are using today.” The early work should be applicable to both Windows Server 2003 and Longhorn Server, he said, but that will be clarified when architectural discussions actually get under way.

“Probably over the next 12 months, we will have some other types of announcements that show the fruit of that work,” Hilf said.

The two companies said they’d continue to compete for software developers with their respective Java and Microsoft .NET offerings.

Last month, JBoss repackaged its migration service for customers using proprietary application servers. JBoss is in fierce competition with IBM and BEA Systems for market share in the application server space.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is building the mother of all application servers.

It aims to make Longhorn Server, the next-generation server system, the traffic controller for everything from office productivity applications to the Dynamics ERP products.

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