Microsoft Pushes Windows 2000 Early Adoption
Over the course of its Windows 2000 development effort, Microsoft Corp. (www.microsoft.com
) took great pains to help prepare large accounts for the eventual migration to the Windows 2000 platform. At the same time, the software giant encouraged the early adoption and implementation of Windows 2000 by smaller, start-up customers seeking to deploy its next-generation operating system in cutting-edge market segments.
According to Dan Kusnetzky, director of worldwide operating environments at International Data Corp. (IDC, www.idc.com), Microsoft pulled out all of the stops with many of its larger customers, providing them with access to advanced support, early alpha and beta Windows 2000 software builds, and training opportunities.
"Microsoft invested a great deal of money and time on some large accounts. This included beta test software and updates, access to special support lines, special opportunities for training," Kusnetzky says. "Microsoft worked very hard to make sure these accounts would be happy enough to be reference accounts."
One account was Mellon Financial Corp. (www.mellon.com), which received early adopter support from both Microsoft and IBM Corp. (www.ibm.com). IBM provided the company with test Netfinity servers on which to deploy Windows 2000, in addition to test desktop and laptop client machines. According to Joe Chirra, assistant vice president at Mellon, his company’s ability to test and deploy Windows 2000 from the early stages of the beta program -- and the support IBM gave Mellon in helping to resolve Windows 2000-related interoperability issues with software such as IBM’s Tivoli Storage Manager -- has been a very positive experience.
"What it gave us was an ability to really concentrate on Windows 2000. It gave us all of our standard hardware and some of IBM’s expertise. So when we first started we were able to focus on all of the hardware compatibility issues, which is really where we got hurt moving to NT 4," Chirra says. "And that actually worked out really well. We were able to work with the IBM helpdesk and get all of our problems resolved."
But large accounts are only part of the story. With the incorporation of Windows Terminal Services into the vanilla Windows 2000 Server and Windows 2000 Advanced Server products, Windows 2000’s expected reliability and scalability advantages make it a potentially popular platform choice for application service providers (ASP) and other hosting providers that are looking to capitalize on the trend among IT organizations to outsource Web and e-mail hosting. Over the past few months, Microsoft’s public relations machine has worked to publicize the Windows 2000 early-deployment experiences of a number of smaller, start-up companies that are offering cutting-edge hosting services on its next-generation operating system.
Public Host, a Web site and e-mail hosting start-up, is an example. As Public Host CEO Dave Williams explains, his company -- unofficially launched in May 1999 -- wanted to build a reliable, scalable hosting environment from scratch. Public Host chose Windows 2000, Williams says, because it believes Microsoft’s operating system offers the best overall platform for hosting of any ilk.
"We’re pushing kind of a leading-edge hosting platform, and we wanted to do it right from the start. When we looked at Windows 2000, it just had everything that we needed," he observes, noting that his company’s production servers have been running live on Windows 2000 Server and Advanced Server since Release Candidate 1.
Among other success stories, Microsoft is trumpeting Data Return Corp. (www.datareturn.com), a hosting provider that has deployed Windows 2000 on some of its production systems since the operating system’s Beta 3 days. The company was impressed with the performance of Windows 2000 Beta 3 on a production server in its DataReturn.com cluster, so according to CTO Jason Lockhhead, it decided to escalate Windows 2000 adoption and implementation plans.
"We put up a Beta  Windows 2000 Server in our DataReturn.com cluster just to get some live traffic on it and see how it was performing. We were impressed," Lockhhead says. "We were seeing some amazing performance numbers on it, somewhere in the area of 30 to 40 percent more connections handled than our NT 4.0 servers. So we convinced a customer to put one up as well."
But despite the Windows 2000 early adoption success stories, IDC’s Kusnetzky worries that not all small- and medium-sized Microsoft customers -- particularly those deploying Windows 2000 in market segments or in implementations in which Microsoft doesn't have much to gain -- will be accorded similar assistance.
"I'm wondering whether all customers will have access to the same software, the same support, the same training," Kusnetzky says.