Datacenter Server to Trail Initial W2K Launch by 120 Days

Despite all the marketing hoopla around Windows 2000, Microsoft Corp. ( has been quiet about its forthcoming Windows 2000 Datacenter Server.

The company’s highest-end product to date is in Beta 2. A Microsoft spokesman said the final version is slated to ship around the middle of June, or 120 days after the launch of Windows 2000 Professional, Server, and Advanced Server. The date slipped slightly, from between 90 and 120 days after the launch to the full 120 days.

A strict interpretation puts delivery at June 16.

Datacenter Server will include features above and beyond Windows 2000 Advanced Server, the most powerful of the three products Redmond released this month.

The primary differentiating features in Datacenter Server are support for 32 processors, 64 GB of memory, cascading fail-over among four nodes, a special hardware compatibility list, a Process Control Manager, and WinSock Direct -- a tighter form of networking that approximates performance clustering.

Advanced Server is limited to supporting eight processors, 8 GB of memory, and two-node fail-over clustering. The high-end operating system versions are neck-and-neck with 32-node network load balancing.

Microsoft positions Advanced Server as a direct upgrade from Windows NT 4.0, Enterprise Edition. "Datacenter Server will be targeted to the largest enterprise customers with the heftiest needs," the Microsoft spokesman says.

A number of hardware vendors are expressing excitement over the pending Datacenter Server. Unisys Corp. (, for instance, plans to ship its 32-way ES7000 server by the end of the first quarter.

"Datacenter Server is the OS platform that will enable us to fully run the ES7000," says Irv Epstein, vice president of Windows program management at Unisys. "With our 32-way machines, it is mandatory."

When ES7000 ships with Datacenter Server, Epstein says Unisys will target e-business, server consolidation, and high-performance applications such as SAP, PeopleSoft, and Siebel.

"Today, the e-business market is dominated by Sun, and Microsoft customers are waiting for technology that can scale up and scale out," he says.

IBM Corp. (, has been working with Microsoft during the beta phases of Datacenter Server, and plans to ship servers with the operating system when it becomes available later this year.

"We’re working closely with Microsoft on Datacenter because you can’t get scalability with just the software," says Dick Sullivan, vice president of Windows solutions marketing at IBM. "You also need the middleware, a transaction server and a solid database, which tends to be a really important part."

Both IBM and Unisys say they will target Datacenter Server toward customers with higher-end needs than what Advanced Server provides, and that the target market will be smaller than the markets for the other versions of Windows 2000.

"For customers not looking to scale beyond the absolute limitations of Advanced Server, there isn’t a good reason to move to Datacenter Server," Unisys’ Epstein says. "But customers that want more than Advanced Server’s limitations will need Datacenter."

While the capabilities in Datacenter Server begin to bring the Windows NT/2000 operating system into functionality competition with Unix/RISC systems, Windows 2000 Datacenter Server will by no means chase Unix away. According to statistics from International Data Corp. (IDC,, server shipments of Sun Microsystems Inc.’s ( Solaris server operating system were up 19.2 percent last year.

IBM’s Sullivan doesn’t expect users to actually wait for Datacenter Server. "I don’t see anybody waiting for Datacenter now," he says. "One of the things we find is that customers can’t afford to wait anymore, so they generally won’t. They’ll just choose another platform, such as a Unix variety."