Microsoft, Level 8 Partner for Legacy Interoperability

In the disparate world of open systems, ensuring the guaranteed delivery and processing of a transaction or message is a crucial issue. The agreement between Level 8 Systems Inc. (New York, New York,, publisher of FalconMQ message queuing products, and Microsoft Corp., publisher of the Microsoft Message Queue Server (MSMQ), could portend a new era of interoperability between message queuing solutions running on Microsoft’s Windows NT operating system and those traditionally available on IBM Corp.’s legacy operating systems.

As part of the agreement, Microsoft will license Level 8 Systems' FalconMQ Bridge to integrate its MSMQ with the MQSeries message queue server middleware technology from IBM. Microsoft also announced that it will recommend Level 8 Systems’ FalconMQ Clients as MSMQ API implementations on operating systems other than Windows.

"Together, MSMQ and FalconMQ Clients provide the most comprehensive cross-platform message queuing solution available on the market today," maintains Sam Somech, president and CTO of Level 8 Systems.

According to Dan Kusnetzky, director of worldwide operating environments research with International Data Corp. (IDC, Framingham, Mass.,, Microsoft’s drive toward interoperability in the messaging arena has been conditioned by the presence of IBM legacy systems in many medium and large accounts. "IBM has been very successful creating middleware that has been broadly adopted by medium and large organizations, including things like CICS, MQseries, Data Hub, Data Router, Data Joiner, etc.," Kusnetzky notes. "Microsoft wants to play in the organizations using these software systems, but regardless of its attempts to position these systems as old, Microsoft must face the fact that these ‘old’ IBM systems are up-to-the-minute in terms of scalability, manageability, and power."

Message Queuing is a technology that helps with the reliable delivery of messages -- including e-mail messages, transactions and calls between applications -- across heterogeneous enterprise networks. A number of initiatives, the Business Quality Messaging Forum (BQM Forum, ) foremost among them, have cropped up in recent years that attempt to define an interoperable standard for secure, reliable message delivery across heterogeneous networks. Level 8, Microsoft and IBM are members of the forum.

Level 8 Systems’ FalconMQ Client is a set of client application programming interfaces for C and COBOL programmers that is available on UNIX, AS/400, Digital VMS and IBM CICS/MVS platforms, while the FalconMQ Bridge for MQSeries provides wire-level interoperability between MSMQ and MQSeries hosts.

The Microsoft-Level 8 agreement will likely prove significant through the improved interoperability of the Windows NT operating system with legacy systems such as AS/400 minicomputers and RS/6000 RISC Unix systems from IBM, each of which is capable of operating IBM’s MQSeries message queuing software.

Microsoft is positioning its agreement with Level 8 Systems as an olive-branch gesture to lingering interoperability concerns in many enterprise environments that have traditionally relied upon IBM’s MQSeries middleware. "The strong interoperability of Windows NT is further enhanced by this agreement," says Tod Nielsen, Microsoft general manager for developer relations. "With Level 8 FalconMQ products, MSMQ plays a significant role in Microsoft's cross-platform interoperability and application integration strategy."

Level 8 Systems’ Somech explains that this agreement will benefit both his company and Microsoft. "We find this agreement mutually beneficial," he says. "Joining with an industry leader provides us with an opportunity to explore untapped market areas, and it also provides Microsoft with new interoperability capabilities for its enterprise customers."

IDC’s Kusnetzky is less impressed. "This announcement merely lets Microsoft say that they're in the game," he observes.

In addition to integrating the Falcon MQBridge technology with MSMQ and endorsing the FalconMQ Client, Microsoft announced that it will include Level 8 Systems’ FalconMQ Server with the Windows NT Server operating system and will make it available for download. The FalconMQ Server interacts with FalconMQ Clients that run on non-Windows platforms.