Gartner sceptical on timelines

Gartner analysts are not impressed by what Sun and Microsoft claimed as “good progress” in their cooperation effort. John Pescatore and Earl Perkins of Gartner said that until they commit to timelines for true interoperability between WS-Federation and Liberty, enterprises should not assume that the initiative would yield meaningful output.

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By  Caroline Denslow Published  May 29, 2005

Gartner analysts are not impressed by what Sun and Microsoft claimed as “good progress” in their cooperation effort. John Pescatore and Earl Perkins of Gartner said that until they commit to timelines for true interoperability between WS-Federation and Liberty, enterprises should not assume that the initiative would yield meaningful output. Early this month, Sun and Microsoft hosted an event where they revealed details about their ongoing efforts to make Solaris and Windows interoperable, including draft specifications for their proposed web single sign-on protocols. The two companies also disclosed an agreement that would see Sun implementing Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Protocol to let Sun Ray thin clients access Windows Terminal Services. However, Gartner said that the event was more of a publicity stunt for its service partners that have endorsed the Sun/Microsoft interoperability initiative, such as Accenture, EDS and NEC, rather than a major push forward. “Over a year has passed since Microsoft and Sun agreed to stop battling and work together for the common good,” according to Pescatore’s and Perkins’s posting on Gartner’s web site. “From a security perspective, this spirit of togetherness has led to a minor reduction in the effort needed to deploy authentication and authorisation across mixed Solaris/Windows environments (such as the announcement that Sun systems will be (‘Certified for Windows’).” “But [we] have not seen major movement forward. If the two IT leaders were really applying significant resources and attention to producing ‘less complex and more secure computing environments’ (as asserted in their 2004 cooperation announcement), we believe concrete results would have been produced by now — not just promises for what will happen in a year or two,” the two added. Gartner, instead, compared Sun and Microsoft to other vendors in the area of identity management who are still heading toward gateway translator approaches rather than focusing on native adoption of standard, end-to-end protocols and identity token formats. “In a market where many vendors operate independently, such awkward gateway approaches are often the only practical option. When industry titans like Microsoft and Sun claim to be working together, however, we expect more in the first year of this ten-year agreement,” the analysts said. Pescatore and Perkins advise customers to look at Sun and Microsoft’s announcement as mainly a public-relations-oriented effort and should not therefore base their plans on the assumption of meaningful output from the two companies unless they commit on timelines.

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