W2K Datacenter Server Beta Ships

The beta program for Microsoft Corp.’s most ambitious foray into enterprise-class operating systems is officially under way.

The company shipped Beta 1 CDs of Windows 2000 Datacenter Server to about 300 testers in late September. Datacenter Server is the only product of the four SKUs of Windows 2000 without a direct predecessor. Windows 2000 Professional flows from Windows NT Professional 4.0, Windows 2000 Server maps to Windows NT Server 4.0 and Windows 2000 Advanced Server owes its heritage to Windows NT Server 4.0, Enterprise Edition.

Datacenter Server includes all the features in Windows 2000 Advanced Server plus four-node clustering, up to 32-way SMP support, up to 32 GB of RAM a more rigorous hardware compatibility testing process, up to 32-node Network Load Balancing, Winsock Direct for faster I/O performance and a Process Control Manager to allocate system resources. The iteration also features rolling upgrades, which ensures that three nodes of a cluster will run while software on a fourth node is upgraded, and three APIs -- Cluster, Network Load Balancing and Job Object.

IBM Corp. stole a bit of Microsoft’s thunder a few weeks ago by confirming at a press event that it had the beta code for Datacenter Server and discussing how the beta program would work. At the time, Microsoft declined to comment on the status of the Datacenter Server beta program.

IBM’s role, like that of several other unannounced vendor partners, is to provide hardware to four end-user partners of its choosing and four partners picked by Microsoft. IBM will provide each partner with four, four-way SMP Netfinity 5500 machines running Datacenter Server, configured with Microsoft Cluster Server. Testing would include upgrading the cluster during the test and possibly working with higher levels of SMP.

Windows 2000 Datacenter Server was first unveiled in October 1998 when the operating system upgrade was renamed from Windows NT 5.0 to Windows 2000. From the start, Microsoft said Datacenter Server would ship about two months after the other versions. The promised ship date has since been pushed back to three or four months after other Windows 2000 versions, which are now into their third beta.