Summer Doldrums: A Thing of the Past

Not too long ago, the summers used to be slow. That's no longer true if your area of interest is enterprise technologies surrounding Windows.

Almost every day for the last few weeks, we’ve been rushing to post stories on our Web site (www.entmag.com) about developments with Microsoft Corp.’s (www.microsoft.com) enterprise technologies. This summary of some of the events indicates how focused these developments are on enterprise environments.

Windows 2000 Datacenter Server reached the Release Candidate stage. If Microsoft ever tendered an enterprise product, Datacenter Server is it. With its advertised support for four-node failover clustering, 32 processors, 64 GB of RAM, and rigorous service and support program, the server operating system will far exceed anything Microsoft has sported in the past on the Intel platform.

Service Pack 1 for Windows 2000 shipped. Clearly not all of the 260-odd fixes in the release are targeted at the enterprise, but a lot of them are. Some include the 28 fixes for the Directory Services component and the numerous fixes for clustering and Terminal Services. Much of SP1 targets reliability by plugging memory leaks, performance drags, and networking issues. The bottom line is that there are no blockbuster fixes -- which is what Microsoft needed to be able to say. The biggest significance of SP1 for the enterprise is that it’s out. A lot of you in enterprise IT have been waiting for SP1 before committing to W2K.

Application Center 2000 reached public beta. This new product is a key element of Microsoft’s "scale-out" strategy for attaining big-box class performance with clusters of smaller, less expensive servers. This product is purely an enterprise computing play. Companies and organizations running Web sites or applications on one server get no benefit from Application Center, which provides a single view of an application across multiple clustered servers. It handles application synchronization across the servers, provides component load balancing among application servers, and eases management of network load balancing of Web servers.

Microsoft Metadirectory Services came out as version 2.2. One of the biggest enterprise knocks on Active Directory relates to interoperability with important directory services technologies already in place, such as Novell Directory Services. MMS 2.2 represents Microsoft’s first real effort to integrate the product they acquired last summer with the purchase of ZOOMIT Corp.

Microsoft released a preview version of 64-bit Windows and updated 64-bit development tools. Granted, Intel Corp. (www.intel.com) pushed back its availability projections for the 64-bit Itanium processor that 64-bit Windows depends on, but Microsoft’s preview version gives enterprise Windows developers more to work with for now.

I’m sure the enterprise Windows news mill will continue churning out more developments, so there will probably have been more news by the time you read this column.

I think we’re seeing Microsoft’s enterprise server technologies grow up. While Windows NT has been pitched as an enterprise operating system, it really only began to attain that status in terms of widespread industry perceptions with Windows NT 4.0, Service Pack 5. By the same token, Microsoft’s SQL Server really only became regarded as enterprise class around the 7.0 release.

Suddenly a lot of Microsoft’s technological developments that build out of Windows and BackOffice relate to the enterprise in a way they hadn’t before.

As Microsoft’s enterprise technologies mature, the pace is only going to accelerate.