Microsoft Launches Enterprise Servers, Not All Products Ready

MicrosoftCorp. highlighted its most powerful operating system yet -- seven anticipatedenterprise servers and one unexpected enterprise server -- at its Enterprise2000 Launch late last month.

Despite thefanfare of the releases and the seven months that have passed since the Windows2000 launch in February, many of the Enterprise 2000 server components were notready in time for the eight-city event Sept. 26.

Shipping bythe launch date were Windows 2000 Datacenter Server -- the new, high-endoperating system capable of 32 processors, 64 GB of RAM, and four-node failoverclustering -- SQL Server 2000, and Host Integration Server 2000 -- thefollow-on to SNA Server. Exchange 2000 was released to manufacturing Aug. 31,and is expected to ship soon.

ApplicationCenter 2000, Commerce Server 2000, and Internet Security & AccelerationServer 2000 are expected to be available by the end of the year, Microsoft (www.microsoft.com) officials said (see here for details onwhat each server does). BizTalk Server 2000’s ship date has slipped to thefirst half of 2001.

The eventalso served as a debut for Mobile Information 2001 Server, which is intendedfor a 2001 release (see related story).

Theenterprise servers consist mostly of products that previously had fallen underthe BackOffice Suite umbrella. In early June, Microsoft unveiled plans toredefine the name BackOffice to describe the suite of server products when usedin small- and medium-business environments. Calling the individual componentsenterprise servers reinforces Microsoft’s message that the products have grownup to enterprise scalability. Also with the September enterprise launch,Microsoft aimed to marry its Windows 2000 product family and its new .NETstrategy announced in late June.

TheMicrosoft launch came one day ahead of Sun Microsystems Inc.’s (www.sun.com) release of its next generation64-bit processors for its proprietary servers and operating system. In responseto questions that Microsoft is playing catch up to Sun when it comes toscalability, availability, and reliability, Microsoft president and CEO SteveBallmer said Microsoft is prepared to compete on the “abilities.”

“But wealso have a toolset, and a set of middleware, and a set of partners, which willlet businesses move faster, quicker, and take better advantage of the fullrange of industry innovations than our erstwhile competitors,” Ballmer said.

In acommentary on the BizTalk delay, analysts at Zona Research Inc. (www.zonaresearch.com) noted that, “Microsoft is discovering whatvarious vendors and industry groups have already known -- that this XML stuffis ultimately more complicated than it had at first imagined."

Accordingto Zona, the problem is "one of where to draw the line on baselinefunctionality. We interpret part of Microsoft's delay as a decision to set thebar high in incorporating a great deal of schema interpretation embedded asCOM/DNA functionality, and in wanting orchestration, Microsoft's attempt atembedded process flow in an XML server, to be further along in the firstrelease.”

The delaydidn’t stop Microsoft and Compaq Computer Corp. (www.compaq.com) from announcing an initiative called Integration2000 for developing andpromoting “XML-centric, BizTalk Server 2000-based, next-generation enterpriseintegration services and solutions.”

Thecenterpiece of the September launch was Datacenter Server. Unlike the Windows2000 launch, where Microsoft produced then-record breaking TPC-C benchmarks onWindows 2000 Advanced Server to highlight the scalability of the new software,no such scalability surprises were in store for attendees.

Instead,Microsoft released more subtle news, such as the expansion or exact definitionof consulting and support arrangements, and partner announcements about32-processor systems (see related story).

Storage giantEMC Corp. (www.emc.com) announced that it is the first DatacenterInfrastructure Vendor. The program is supposed to provide customers withassurances of joint support and compatibility.

The specialdesignation ends the question of where EMC fits into the Windows DatacenterProgram. Microsoft had been listing EMC for months as one of its WDP partnersin the program for testing and supporting complete Windows 2000 DatacenterServer systems. EMC does not sell servers, except through its Data Generalsubsidiary.

For more on the Enterprise 2000 launch, see:
Microsoft Surprises with Mobile Information Server
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