Today I am in Brussels at the European Interoperability Summit held at the Microsoft Executive Briefing center. All week long we are having discussions with private and public sector customers about interoperability and sharing with them how we are approaching the subject. I went through this in past blog postings, but allow me to restate what we are doing. Also, we have a piece of news to share in our ongoing work on interop.

Interoperability means many things to many people. Some are taking a very narrow view of it and stating that it is all about open standards. That is simplistic and doesn’t do justice to a topic that is as important to most IT professionals as security and reliability. A simple definition for a complex topic:

Interoperability is connecting people, data, and diverse systems. This is achieved when customers control their data and vendors work to build bridges between systems.

If you accept this simple definition, then the question is how to get to solutions which embrace interoperability? For us, it is about delivering interoperability by design.

As of today, we are extending our commitment to interoperability by announcing that our Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) Image Format is becoming an open specification under the open specification promise (OSP).  VHD is the file format for storing virtual machines. Think of it like this: VHD is to virtualization as .DOC is to office productivity. There are >60 industry licensees of the VHD open format today, but we have heard feedback from the community to have us broaden the availability of the technology. Our hope is to see broad adoption of the VHD technology, and to promote interoperability for our customers. By putting the VHD under the OSP, it is available for any developer to utilize no matter what development or business model they choose to use.

This is also an additional step in virtualization interoperability after the announcement of a technical collaboration with XenSource this summer in which we announced interoperability of Windows and Linux solutions for the Longhorn timeframe.

We are going to continue to increase our commitment to interoperability and the VHD open format is the next step in that process. More to come...soon.