Three years ago, Microsoft and Cisco agreed to partner on end-point security. On Aug. 20 the two companies announced a broader "framework for collaboration" that, in addition to security, encompasses architecture, unified communications, and mobile applications.
Among these initiatives is the Service Modeling Language, an XML-based language that the companies identified in a joint statement, the Microsoft-Cisco Alliance Update, as an industry standard through which IT vendors can improve interoperability. SML, the statement read, is "a consistent way to communicate how computer networks, applications servers and other IT resources are described or modeled, ultimately offering more seamless management of the services that are built on these resources."
The W3C has published a working draft of the Service Modeling Language v1.1. According to that draft, whose authors come from Microsoft, HP, CA and IBM, the language uses constructs to create models of "complex services and systems;" these models contain system information such as configuration, deployment, monitoring, policy and capacity planning.
According to the W3C specs, these models, which are really sets of interrelated XML documents, provide value in five ways:
- They log the unchanging elements of a system that need to be maintained to assure proper performance.
- They allow changes to be validated before they are applied to a system -- provided that the models have been decoupled from the live system.
- They serve as "units of communication and collaboration" among the various players in a development project.
- They offer a set of standardized, reusable representations of what comprises a system.
- Finally, they allow for the automation of various management tasks.
In the days following the announcement, Microsoft released two Service Modeling Language resources. One, the SML Technical Reference, provides an overview of the language's architecture. The other is the Authoring SML Models for Capturing and Validating Best Practices Step-by-Step Guide.
Other Microsoft-Cisco partnerships
The two companies are embarking on several other collaborative agreements. Among those announcements are the following:
- Continuing their security partnership, Microsoft and Cisco said their quarantine technologies -- respectively, Network Access Protection and Network Admission Control -- will be interoperable when Windows Server 2008 ships early next year.
- Cisco's Mobile Communications Manager is now available on Windows Mobile 6, as it now supports the Session Initiation Protocol.
- Cisco Unified Communications has been integrated with Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
Microsoft and Cisco did acknowledge that, "[w]hile we are committed to promoting interoperability, that commitment will never preclude either company from pursuing any competitive opportunities."