A tour of Interop next week in Las Vegas will feel like a stroll through some of the tech industry's most sensational news stories of late -- just don't forget the combat boots.
Though the show has branched off to cover a number of pressing IT topics, events related its eponymous theme -- system interoperability -- will be center stage at this year's show. And as dry as those words might sound on paper, there will be no shortage of controversy as vendors and users square off to define what interoperability means, who's responsible for it, and why it's still more theory than practice in today's IT world.
Still think it's strictly back room stuff? The topic's commercial and social ramifications become more apparent when viewed through the lens of specific examples. Like, say Microsoft vs. Linux.
If Microsoft senior VP Bob Muglia draws a packed house at his keynote speech Wednesday at 8:30 a.m., he'll be able to thank in part his company's decision this week to reveal that it believes the Linux kernel violates 42 Microsoft patents and that other open source programs such as Open Office infringe on hundreds more.
As the man overseeing the roll out of key Microsoft technologies like Windows Server Longhorn, scheduled for release later this year, Muglia will have to stare down attendees anxious to know how the company plans to go forward with work on Windows and Linux interoperability while at the same time intimating that it may embroil the Linux community in legal challenges.
Microsoft is working with a number of third party vendors to ensure that Longhorn and Linux are interoperable on some levels. For instance, it's developing technology with XenSource that will allow users to run Linux on servers alongside Longhorn by virtue of Microsoft's forthcoming Viridian virtualization technology.
Microsoft also is cooperating with Linux distributor Novell on a number of sales, marketing, and technical fronts.
Will Microsoft's saber rattling over Linux patents derail such efforts? Also on hand from the company to provide answers on that and related questions will be Craig Kitterman, Microsoft's program manager for interoperability. Kitterman will be speaking on Wednesday at 11:15 a.m. at a session titled interoperability at Microsoft.
For those interested in Microsoft database technologies, program manager Bill Morein will host a discussion on "Visualizing SQL and SQL AS Data In Visio 2007" on Tuesday at 11:15. Also, Microsoft directors Ajay Sikka and Dick Greeley will talk about Microsoft's protocols program on Wednesday at 12:15.
It's hard not to talk about Microsoft this year without mentioning Windows Vista, the new operating system that the company introduced at the end of January. System requirements and application compatibility have been among the chief concerns of desktop users contemplating an upgrade. For those interested in learning the ins and outs of the new operating system -- from security features to application compatibility -- Nelson Ruest of Resolutions Enterprises will provide an overview of Windows Vista on Thursday at 11:15 a.m.