The software industry goes through cycles, in just the same way as other industries. Back in the early 1980's we were working on defining distributed systems, with work on RPC, stub generators, naming services, transactions, security etc. A lot of work was done by vendors and academia, and interoperability or portability were not considered important.


Then in the 1990's we started to look at interoperability through CORBA (portability was still mostly a nice-to-have until the end of the century). When Java and J2EE came on the scene portability took centre stage and interoperability (between heterogeneous implementations) dropped away, unless you wanted to embed a CORBA ORB in your application server. Now we're into the Web Services age and interoperability is king and portability is nothing to do with Web Services specifications or standards bodies: that's the domain of implementation and other organizations such as JCP. It can often be a strange and inefficient approach: at least with CORBA you (eventually) got interoperability between different implementations and languages along with portability in the same package. With Web Services, you get interoperability out-of-the-box as soon as you implement (assuming you conform to the specifications and understand what they say, or don't say); but portability may not come for months or years!


JBoss/Red Hat is heavily into portability and interoperability, as well as standards compliance. Over the past years we've been looking out for any opportunities to help out customers in these areas, including joining the Interoperability Vendor Alliance, participating in a range of Web Services events, and working on standards committees such as WS-BPEL, WS-TX, WS-Addressing and WS-Policy. Standards compliance is critically important for us and our customers: we want to avoid a return to the bad days of vendor lock-in. We take interoperability as a must when developing our products, rather than as a second thought, by which time it's often difficult to retro-fit for existing customers. Portability is a given because of our strong support for JEE.


In that light, we've recently been taking part in a number of important interoperability related events. The Burton Group are hosting the OASIS XACML interoperability workshop and we will be there to participate along with IBM, BEA, Oracle, CA, Securent, Jericho Systems and SymLabs. I'm sure this will be a good event and very successful. Then the W3C has been holding a workshop on transparent eGovernment. Our presentation on eGovernment Portals, is very relevant to our overall goal of interoperability and portability for our customers. Expect more from us around security, federation and transactions over the coming months, as well as interoperability across the board.