One of the foundational elements to Microsoft’s delivering interoperability by design is working with community. Yesterday we took an important step in encouraging ongoing, constructive communication about interoperability among software vendors. The Interop Vendor Alliance is made up of 25 software companies and the goal is to establish an environment for collaboration, testing, and communication to happen more efficiently.

More than anything else, this alliance is about establishing an ongoing, constructive dialogue about interoperability that will help all of the participating member companies to understand customer interoperability scenarios better, as well as seeing what each other are saying about interoperability in general. The public-facing side of the alliance will provide customers with an ongoing flow of interoperability information from the members, some as simple as product information, other information will include technical documentation such as best practice guides for addressing interoperability challenges. There is also a non-public side of the alliance infrastructure that enables product teams from the member companies to have a forum for discussion of interoperability issues.

I travel all over the world talking to people about interoperability issues. The idea that vendors should be more proactive in speaking with each other directly about interoperability is a common theme. There will always remain tension between the request for increased interoperability and need for vendors to deliver unique value in their solutions. Yet, that tension should not be disruptive and it will be through communication mechanisms like this alliance that we can help address customer needs more effectively.