Microsoft, Avinon Ink Three-Year Pact On .Net Web Services

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Avinon and Microsoft formed a three-year strategic alliance and joint pact to develop XML Web services on the .Net platform.

Last week, San Francisco-based Avinon, maker of the NetScenario Web services platform, said it has been working closely with Microsoft for nine months and signed a multifaceted agreement with the software giant in November.

Under the terms of the deal, the two companies will engage in co-marketing, sales and development work on Microsoft's BizTalk and SharePoint .Net servers and XML Web services efforts more broadly in 2002.

Avinon, which becomes a Preferred Microsoft Ecosystem Partner as a result of the deal, previously had a cross-platform strategy but, because of its exclusive focus on .Net services development, will get financial backing, a joint-product road map and marketing funds from Microsoft.

Avinon executives said they also expect to develop for Microsoft's .Net MyServices platform, set to debut in June.

Sources said Microsoft continues to develop server-based Web services for corporations to complement the .Net MyServices desktop services, as well as server-based extensions to Web services standards, but has dropped the former code name of that project, known as Blizzard.

The news comes just days after another Web services pioneer, Bowstreet, revealed a tighter bond with Microsoft rival Sun Microsystems. On Jan. 10, Bowstreet said it would port its Business Web Factory to the Sun ONE architecture, enabling the Java community to dynamically assemble Web services in their application server.

Avinon, which also provides a service management software platform for the rapid assembly and delivery of business Web services, called NetScenario, plans to focus on the financial and manufacturing sectors as part of its pact with Microsoft. The company also on Wednesday debuted new service centers for its NetScenario platform.

The alliances signal a shaping up of the Web services market, which is still in its infancy. Both Avinon and Bowstreet initially planned cross-platform strategies but have now made their alliances known.

"Certainly, birds of a feather are sticking together," said David Ruiz, Avinon's vice president of marketing. "Bowstreet is on Java and is trying to saddle up with Sun. You'll see the Java camps together and the .Net camp together.

"We're a .Net poster child, but also a guinea pig," Ruiz said. "We're creating interactive Web-based apps called business service applications that operate in enterprise and the [Internet cloud."

It's still unclear the extent to which channel partners will participate in the Web services market. Both Bowstreet and Avinon have unveiled plans over the past week to bundle consulting services as part of their platform offerings targeted at enterprise customers. Avinon has, for example, its own consulting services arm and has bundled Microsoft Consulting Services as part of its NetScenario service center bundles.

Last week, Bowstreet unveiled a technology and consulting package called FastTrack, which includes the bundling of its Business Web Factory product with three weeks of professional services, training and other services, enabling clients to build a Web services pilot program.

However, Ruiz said Avinon and Microsoft are having discussions with Accenture as well as systems integrators and solution providers Extreme Logic, Atlanta, and Magenic, Golden Valley, Minn., about participating in extending the .Net service centers.

Long term, he expects the channel to participate in the Web services revolution by providing value-added services such as fabricating NetScenario service centers for vertical markets, leveraging BizTalk adapters to tap into enterprise systems and building Web services into business services for IT managers. "Those are drivers to partnerships," he said.

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