Datacenter Server Testing Gets Under Way

Microsoft Corp. has kicked off what will probably be a lengthy testing cycle for its high-end version of Windows 2000.

Microsoft Corp. has kicked off what will probably be a lengthy testing cycle for its high-end version of Windows 2000. The Datacenter Server beta program teams up Microsoft with an unspecified number of high-end partners, who each will work together with Microsoft and a small number of end user companies to test deployment configurations of the product.

Datacenter Server is positioned as the high-end of the Windows 2000 family, offering support for up to 32-way SMP, extended clustering capabilities and a series of management tools that are intended to make it easier to use higher-level SMP designs. But with these high-end features come some restrictions not found with the other Windows 2000 iterations. The product will dictate use of a more limited list of compatible hardware products and a more rigorous testing process for hardware drivers.

Under the Datacenter Server beta program, each partner will select four customers that will participate under its guidance, while Microsoft will select an additional four customers to work with that partner. One partner, IBM Corp., already selected its four customers to participate in the program. As of press time, IBM was still waiting for the selection of four non-customer companies to come from Microsoft.

Each participating hardware vendor will supply systems and software to the eight customers, while the partner company will work with Microsoft to provide support and problem resolution.

Sandy Carter, director of Netfinity Partners in Development at IBM, says IBM will supply each beta user with a set of four, four-way SMP Netfinity 5500 machines running Datacenter Server, configured with Microsoft Cluster Server and supported by a Fibre Channel SAN storage system.

"Each customer picked something different they wanted to do [with their system]," Carter says, including one customer that is evaluating the viability off the configuration for migrating from a Unix environment. Carter declined to identify any of the companies, or what the other three IBM customers will specifically be doing with their systems.

Carter says plans include upgrading the cluster during the test, and that at some point higher levels of SMP could be used. Extended levels of SMP support is one of the features Microsoft touts for Datacenter Server. IBM confirms that the first release of Datacenter Server beta code was sent to the hardware partners a few weeks ago.

Since announcing the Datacenter Server version of Windows 2000 last fall, Microsoft has slowly pushed the delivery date of the product back. Initially, the company predicted the product would ship about two months behind the general release of Windows 2000 Server and Advanced Server. Subsequent adjustments now target the product to be released three or four months after other Windows 2000 versions.

For its part, Microsoft is mum on the subject. Redmond declined to be interviewed about the program. A spokesperson said the company was not yet prepared to discuss the subject.