Software titan Microsoft is taking a significant step toward appeasing the open source community by integrating its .NET Framework into the Apache Web server, the world's most popular back-end software for serving up Web pages.Although Microsoft isn't working directly with the Apache Software Foundation, the Redmond, Wash., company has announced a deal with Covalent Technologies, a San Francisco-based consulting firm that specializes in Apache implementations throughout the enterprise. Under the deal, the companies announced that Apache 2.0, as available in Covalent's Enterprise Ready Server, is now compatible with Microsoft ASP.NET -- a server-side, object-oriented programming tool that is an integral part of Microsoft's .NET <DEFINE:.NET> vision.
For Microsoft, the announcement, which was made at an open source developer conference in San Diego hosted by O'Reilly, demonstrates how important Web services (and, hence, its much-touted .NET Framework) has become. Supporting Apache flies directly in the face of its own Internet Information Server , or IIS, development efforts. But Microsoft still wants developers to adopt ASP.NET code even if it means allowing them to turn to Apache at the expense of IIS."It's a sign that ASP.NET is just that important to them," said Jim Zemlin, vice president of marketing at Covalent.
Traditionally, the operations side of an IT department has relied heavily on Apache as opposed to IIS because of its greater security. However, with the February release of Visual Studio .NET, IT developers have increasingly been creating programs that obligated their operations counterparts to use IIS. That is, until today.
The combination of ASP.NET, Covalent's Apache product, and Windows 2000 provides a strong enterprise solution allowing development and operations groups to independently utilize technologies that meet their needs, Covalent said in its prepared remarks.
The news comes a day after Microsoft promised to integrate .NET applications with Oracle databases. But Wednesday's Apache announcement is the strongest signal to date that Microsoft is trying to abide by its promise to promote cross-platform integration.
"It's good to hear Microsoft is going to work with [Apache], they have told us that cross-platform integration is big," said Jay Pitzer, vice president of sales and marketing at NetEdge Software, a Wake Forest, N.C.-based consulting firm that uses .NET extensively for systems integration.
As for undermining Microsoft's own proprietary Web server software that also announced today along with its final preview version of its .NET Server, Pitzer explained that Microsoft is simply realizing that is the cost of doing business.
"They realize that the world doesn't revolve around them. In the big enterprise, there are so many different types of systems and Microsoft has done a great job to provide a platform for multiple platforms to engage each other."