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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

IBM Corp has announced that it has joined Microsoft Corp's Visual Studio.NET Integration Program (VSIP) to provide tighter integration between DB2 and .NET. The idea is that "support for VSIP will enable developers to leverage the power of DB2 combined with the benefits of the Microsoft .NET Framework for application development", reducing the time and cost taken to develop and deploy applications.

The announcement seems curiously content-free, however. It is not really news: Microsoft chief architect Bill Gates revealed that DB2 would be enabled for Visual Studio.NET when the latter was launched in February. Nor does IBM commit to a date for actually shipping any software - usually a sign that plenty of work remains to be done. Either IBM has belatedly decided to announce its membership of VSIP four months after the event, or Gates jumped the gun in his San Francisco speech.

At least IBM has taken the bold step of signing up for VSIP, which is more than can be said of its database rivals Oracle and Sybase. Illustrating the delicate balance of interests that drives such decisions, it was Microsoft that recently did the work of integrating Oracle more closely with .NET, rather than the other way around. While Microsoft is positioning Visual Studio.NET as the development environment of choice, IBM is aiming to do the same thing for DB2 in the database world. Presumably both think the integration is in their own interests.

Of the 90 or so VSIP members listed by Microsoft, only a handful are big players like IBM. Compaq's membership has no doubt been inherited by HP; others include Computer Associates, Compuware, Fujitsu, Intel, Mercury Interactive, Rational and SAP. Membership costs an affordable $10,000 per year for a three-year contract.

At the technical level, VSIP offers members the chance to hook their own products into .NET in exactly the same way as Microsoft's own programming languages such as Visual Basic and Visual C Sharp. This is done through Component Object Model (COM) based software components called VSPackages, which can only be obtained through VSIP.

© ComputerWire

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