In the flurry of news last week about our big deal with Microsoft, there was quite a bit of talk about the possibilities for technical co-operation. I’ve been poking around a bit to try to figure out what that actually means.
First of all, it’s not just hand-waving; the CTOs (Papadopoulos on our side, Gates on theirs) had a series of meetings back when this was all secret. Having said that, there’s not much detail on offer. At the McNealy-Ballmer press conference, the first question from the floor was “Does this mean you’ll merge Java and C#?” Er, no, I don’t think so.
But there’s one thing that’s become pretty clear and I haven’t really seen picked up on in the media: it should get easier to do everyday business without lawyers getting in the way.
It’s best illustrated by example; let’s suppose that some big auto manufacturer has a bunch of J2EE infrastructure doing purchasing scheduling, and has a BizTalk deployment doing messaging to foreign subsidiaries; and suppose they want to make the two of them start talking to each other.
So the smart thing to do is for the car-company CIO to get in touch with his account managers at Microsoft and Sun and tell them to send in some really smart senior people to sit down and work out how to do it. Except for, until a week ago it was really hard for us to work together on this kind of a problem because both sides would want to check with their lawyers before saying anything about anything, and the lawyers (as is their job) would point out the risks, and as you can well imagine the customer would be severely unimpressed.
And that was a pleasant scenario. Suppose that same car company has a hundred thousand Outlook email clients and a couple of big Sun Messaging Server deployments. And further suppose that some emails seem to be falling on the floor. Hey, shit happens.
The customer is going to want to get some Sun and Microsoft people in the room and knock their heads together repeatedly and tell them to go away and solve it. (I would, if it were me). And the customer is not going to want to hear any kvetching about in-progress litigation.
(By the way, I swear by all that’s holy I made those scenarios up out of thin air just now, so any car-company executives that were going to get on the phone to ask who spilled the beans, that was a lucky guess. I have been doing this for twenty years, you know.)
So, don’t hold your breath waiting for the great Java-C# integration. But getting day-to-day business done should get a little easier for everyone.