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Sun And Microsoft Talk Software

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The CEOs of the respective companies, which have had differences in the past, discussed a new joint project.

Scott McNealy of Sun and Steve Ballmer of Microsoft discussed a jointly made software project with the media. The two companies entered into an agreement last year to work together, an agreement that should run for ten years.

The project discussed on Friday involves Web single sign-on (SSO), and has been a project developed at the request of some of both companies’ larger customers. SSO allows a user to sign on and have their identity recognized by security domains using either Liberty ID-FF or WS-Federation.

As a result of collaboration between the two companies, they have published two draft specifications. The specs aim to improve a user’s experience after signing on to a Web site using one security model, then navigating to a site using the other security model.

A frequent user complaint has been the need to memorize multiple logins and passwords for various sites. SSO was created with the intent of making a single login valid in multiple places.

Additionally, the SSO recognizes a user’s role within an organization, whether they are end-users or managers. As the user navigates between sites, any extra functions they should be entitled to use become available.

The agreement between Sun and Microsoft was signed in April 2004. However, getting employees from the two companies to talk to each other reportedly took six months, due to differences in corporate cultures and engineering styles.

But those differences have been resolved. As the two CEOs discussed the SSO technology, one aim of the project became apparent. Professionals from large customers of the two were in attendance, and the discussion briefly turned to mainframes used by one business, EDS.

The company has billions of lines of legacy code running on mainframes, and to take advantage of SSO and other services, that code would have to be migrated either to a Microsoft .NET platform or a Java Sun platform. Both companies would gain in this scenario at the expense of a company like IBM or HP.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

Sun And Microsoft Talk Software
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