Climbing the Windows 2000 Ladder

Microsoft Corp. has taken great pains to ensure that now that Windows 2000 Server is on the shelves, there are applications available for organizations to run on the platform.

Internally, Microsoft (www.microsoft.com) tested what it views as the top software applications available for Windows 2000. "About seven months ago we started a very proactive program to make sure the wide array of applications available today would be available for Windows 2000," says Peter Ollodart, group manager for the Microsoft Windows 2000 certification program. "We identified the top workstation and server applications that we have to make sure work seamlessly."

Ollodart says Microsoft tested 500 desktop applications and 86 server applications. What they discovered as the latest betas of Windows 2000 were released, is that those top software programs worked well. For applications that weren't up to par, Microsoft brought the ISV to its Windows 2000 lab in Redmond to find a way to make the application work.

ENT interviewed several top software vendors that have products running on Windows NT Server. It seems their enthusiasm and commitment to the new platform are mixed.

Much of the contention comes from vendors who rely on other platforms, especially their own, for revenue, such as Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP, www.hp.com). Brian Dean, solutions manager for HP OpenView Express, says certification is still in flux for the OpenView team. "There's still a lot of discussion as to what it means to be Windows 2000 certified," Dean says. "[Microsoft] put a lot of requirements in that the rest of the ISV community is really questioning."

Dean says certain Windows 2000 certification requirements demand "core architectural changes that would have to be made to the software product. That was asking too much too soon." However, Dean says HP has done significant testing of its own with a large Windows 2000 lab, and that is how HP will decide what products can support Windows 2000.

Problems with some ISVs were troubling enough that Microsoft held a meeting of large software makers in Redmond two weeks before Windows 2000's launch. The griping and negotiating at the meeting was held under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) so ISVs are mum about the details.

One company that would obviously have problems with Windows 2000 Server certification is Novell Inc. (www.novell.com). Since Microsoft requires Active Directory support, and Novell focuses its support on its own directory service eDirectory -- formerly Novell Directory Services (NDS) -- the GroupWise team is in a bind.

"It's kind of a Catch-22," says Terry Ulanch, marketing manager for Novell collaboration products. "I want to make sure I'm taking advantage of NDS, that would later integrate with Active Directory. We don't want customers to have to go through so many hoops." Novell will support GroupWise version 5.2 and up on Windows 2000, according to Ulanch.

Some software vendors are climbing the Windows 2000 Server ladder with a smile. Baan Co. (www.baan.com) is taking advantage of several new features in the operating system. David George, senior development manager at the Microsoft-Baan lab in Redmond, says Baan ERP uses the Windows Installer, group policies, the MMC, the Active Directory, and roaming profiles.

"There's complexity in finding a way to exploit the Active Directory in a meaningful way," George says. "Don't just do it for certification but actually offer a service that would benefit customers."

Chris Justice, product manager of platforms for Tivoli Systems Inc. (www.tivoli.com), says parent company IBM Corp. (www.ibm.com) is centralizing certification efforts for Windows 2000. Big Blue is building unified components that all IBM products can use.

"IBM has created a Windows 2000 logo requirement specification, outlining the features our products should take advantage of," Justice says. "IBM has automated and provided code components and distributed them among the product teams, making the process more easy for us, so now we just have to sync up with customer needs."

Even Oracle Corp. (www.oracle.com) is getting into the Windows 2000 certification act, taking advantage of features such as the Kerberos security model to allow the storage of database objects in Active Directory, reducing costs, according to Bob Shimp, senior director of product marketing for Oracle Internet platforms.

Oracle also will use the Windows 2000 address windowing extensions (AWEs) that will enable Oracle8i to access 64 GB of memory instead of the 4 GB limit on Windows NT. "You'll be able to bring very large amounts of database buffer into memory," Shimp says. "This will allow you to run much, much faster."