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Collaboration on systems management and digital rights management (DRM) are the next milestones in the Microsoft and Sun Microsystems joint technology deal.

The companies are working to provide a greater level of management between Microsoft’s software and Sun systems running on Opteron, and for Sun's family of products providing provisioning, management and diagnosis of Windows under the N1 flag.

Work is also underway for Sun technologies to "plug-into" Microsoft's DRM software.

Ben Lenail, primary Microsoft relationship manger at Sun, said the companies are "pretty well engaged" on management, with deliverables expected later this year and in 2006, while work on DRM is planned for the next six to nine months.

News of the deliverables come more than a year into a deal that has, by the companies' own admission, experienced some difficulty in hitting its stride.

Signed in April 2004, the deal was light on newsworthy deliverables until May. Then the companies announced work on a set of specifications allowing browser-based federated single sign-in between systems running .NET and domains based on the Sun-backed Liberty Alliance Project.

Lenail, though, recently told The Register that things are picking up as both companies are "pretty well engaged" in the area of systems management and integration between Microsoft's Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI) and N1.

"We don't have much legacy... it's a golden area of collaboration," Lenail said, adding Microsoft and Sun are working on interoperability at the instrumentation and telemetry layer.

"Since we have Opteron hardware, it's about the ability for Microsoft's products to manage that, and for Sun's N1 products to provision, manage and diagnose Windows," Lenail said.

In March El Reg reported how Microsoft had acquired $850,000 worth Sun and Opteron kit. Now we know why.

Ultimately, though, the companies are working towards integration on DRM to provide what Lenail called "enterprise DRM" for business customers and partners.

Lenail did not provide details, but the work could see Microsoft's emerging desktop-based DRM architecture - in Office, Internet Explorer and at the operating system level - plug into Sun's directory and ID server products. This could potentially mean a scalable, server-based DRM system spanning platforms outside of Windows.

"We have the back-end provisioning... for us it's enterprise DRM," Lenail said. ®

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