Microsoft Tinkers with BackOffice Suite

Earlier this month, Microsoft Corp. announced at TechEd in Orlando, Fla., that it added a new product to the BackOffice Server 2000 suite, dropped an existing feature from the lineup, and made several enhancements to the suite.

Joel Sloss, product manager for BackOffice Server 2000 at Microsoft (www.microsoft.com), says the overall theme of the suite as an integrated set of products remains the same.

The new version of the suite will pick up all the updated applications and server components. Proxy Server, which was in previous versions of the suite, was replaced with the Internet Security and Accelerator Server (ISA) 2000 (see "Microsoft Adds Firewall and Caching Product to Windows DNA 2000").

BackOffice 2000's enhancements include Health Monitor 2.1, the MultiServer configuration option, BackOffice Server Management consoles, Remote Administration, Intranet Productivity Site, and a new and updated suite integration tools and wizards.

Health Monitor 2.1 lets IT managers remotely monitor and troubleshoot servers in real time, and send status reports via fax or e-mail. Remote Administrator allows the management of servers via a Web client or as a direct-dial RAS connection.

Server management consoles also improve management of the suite. These consoles plug into the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) and Active Directory. With the BackOffice consoles, users can delegate management, customize MMC consoles, and simplify queries to the Active Directory.

Microsoft also opened up the licensing of the suite, if only a little. Instead of having to load all the components onto a single server, users can now distribute the BackOffice components across two or three servers. Companies can organize the BackOffice pieces according to task or across business lines. All the tools are MultiServer-aware.

The suite ships with one instance of each component. Companies that want to multi-instance SQL Server 2000, for instance, will have to buy all instances beyond the first one. Companies that install the servers on different machines need another copy of Windows 2000 for each machine, as well.

Sloss says Microsoft determined that three was the magic number by extensive research. Companies, whether they were staying within the licensing boundaries or not, had BackOffice components most commonly distributed across two or three machines.

To help companies deploy the products on multiple machines, Microsoft added an enhanced deployment wizard.

The suite, which Microsoft says will ship toward the end of this year, will be comprised of Windows 2000 with Service Pack 1 (SP1), Exchange 2000 with Outlook 2000 Service Release 1, SQL Server 2000, Systems Management Server 2.0 with SP2, ISA, and Host Integration Server 2000.

[Infobox]: BackOffice 2000

Microsoft Corp. is tweaking the BackOffice Suite before its release slated for later this year.
Components will include:

Windows 2000 Server

Exchange 2000 Server

SQL Server 2000

Systems Management Server 2.0

Internet Security and Accelerator Server 2000

Host Integration Server 2000