Super Tuesday: Microsoft Launches 8 Enterprise Servers

Microsoft Corp. held its Enterprise 2000 launch event Tuesday in San Francisco to introduce its .NET Enterprise Servers product line. The launch event, with telecasts in seven cities, is a bridge between what Microsoft used to call the most important product in its history, Windows 2000, and what it now says is its most important initiative ever, .NET.

Components of the .NET Enterprise Server launch include SQL Server 2000, Exchange 2000, Application Center 2000, Commerce Server 2000, Host Integration Server 2000, BizTalk Server 2000, and Internet Security & Acceleration Server 2000. Microsoft also officially launched Windows 2000 Datacenter Server.

The core components of the enterprise server line evolved out of the Microsoft BackOffice suite. While the BackOffice suite will continue to exist, Microsoft is de-emphasizing the name and targeting the suite at small to medium-sized businesses.

The enterprise server name fits with Microsoft’s efforts, especially with Windows 2000 Datacenter Server and SQL Server 2000, to stretch beyond its image as a producer of desktop products and small-capacity servers.

Microsoft bills the launch as the first step in the evolution of its .NET platform. Announced this summer, .NET is Microsoft’s effort to encourage developers to begin including Microsoft technology-based externally hosted services into enterprise applications. In Microsoft’s view, these megaservices could help extend information to users anyplace they go in whatever format they choose.

The connection to Microsoft’s fledgling .NET platform may be little more than marketing at this point, but the new servers do represent some of Microsoft’s most credible enterprise products yet. Released to manufacturing in advance of the announcement were Windows 2000 Datacenter Server, SQL Server 2000, and Exchange 2000.

Windows 2000 Datacenter Server is the final member of the Windows 2000 product set, and the only one that is completely new. Coming more than six months after the Feb. 17 launch of the rest of the Windows 2000 family, Datacenter brings support for up to 64 GB of memory, up to 32 processors, and up to four-node failover clustering.

One significant feature of Datacenter is that it won’t be sold by Microsoft. Customers will only be able to obtain Datacenter as part of complete, eight-processor capable OEM systems that are fully tested and supported.

Any update of Exchange Server is important for Microsoft, but Exchange 2000 is a key product for the company and the Windows 2000 platform. It is the first major application to take advantage of, and depend on, Active Directory.

Microsoft has been aggressively benchmarking SQL Server 2000 since well before the Windows 2000 launch. The database’s performance looks impressive, and the launch event means it is finally available.

Other elements of the Enterprise 2000 launch event include Commerce Server 2000, BizTalk Server 2000, and Host Integration Server 2000. For the Web farm, Microsoft unveiled Application Center 2000 – a deployment and management tool for Web applications – and Internet Security & Acceleration Server 2000, which combines a firewall and Web cache server.

One other launch component that does fit more neatly into the .NET theme is something Microsoft is calling Mobile Information 2001 Server. The product is supposed to help mobile users access corporate information. Microsoft officials say the product will be available next year.

Many of the enterprise server products follow a new per-processor licensing model that Microsoft created earlier this year.