Companies ready networked software research initiative

Thirteen software and telecommunications companies are launching a consortium to work together to develop new software and services based on open standards.

The organization, Networked European Software and Services Initiative (NESSI), which will be officially launched on Sept. 7 in Brussels, aims to tap into European research initiatives to develop new services architectures and software infrastructure.

The consortium brings together telecommunications companies from the U.K., Spain, Finland and Italy, software companies like IBM, Hewlett-Packard (HP) and SAP, and IT service and systems providers such as Atos Origin and Thales Group.

The initiative aims to help Europe develop a "knowledge-based economy" in line with the European Union's Lisbon strategy of boosting competitiveness and growth by encouraging innovation, according to a representative of one of the companies involved in the consortium.

Among other things, the consortium will focus on developing software to provide government services to European citizens or to public administrations, although this will not be the only area the group will work in, said Francois Letellier, a member of the executive committee of ObjectWeb, an international consortium working on the development of open source middleware.

While the project will not be entirely based on open source software, open source will be a "major element" of its work, Letellier said, while supporting open standards will be a key part of its aims.

Basing software and services architecture on open standards "means that business applications can be developed and rolled out faster than before ... which will help European industry remain competitive in an increasingly aggressive global commercial environment," according to a NESSI statement.

The initiative succeeds an earlier consortium in the software development field called S3/Seaside. Wednesday's launch event will mark the new name and the fact that the organization has been formally recognized by the European Commission as a "technology platform."

The Commission is promoting such platforms as part of its i2010 initiative to boost the E.U.'s IT sector, an effort to encourage companies from different sectors to work together to develop new products and services. Consortiums with technology-platform status will be able to apply together for E.U. funding for research projects. Bids for such financing require several companies to work together to ensure that the benefits of the funding flow to a wide range of companies rather than just one.

European Commissioner for Information Technology Viviane Reding will give a speech at NESSI's official launch.

The thirteen companies involved are: Atos Origin, BT Group, Engineering Ingegneria Informatica, IBM, HP, Nokia, ObjectWeb, SAP, Siemens, Software AG, Telecom Italia, Telefonica and Thales.