Microsoft - Too Modest and Quiet?
In Software Strategies' view, the enterprise IT community as a whole has not yet fully realised the high quality, functionality, capability, and reliability Microsoft actually achieved with its flagship Windows 2000 Operating System (OS) family, released in February 2000. From our research, Windows 2000 considerably exceeded all market expectations when it finally arrived. Fewer enterprise users still have yet grasped that, with the range-topping Windows 2000 Datacenter Server version, released in September 2000, Microsoft now also offers a true, high-end, enterprise-capable OS. A system that is robust, partitionable, and capable of driving the new generation of Intel-based, data center-class enterprise servers (such as the Unisys ES7000 described above) and of providing the core OS component of New Era E-Infrastructures. Perhaps this lack of field acknowledgement was because Microsoft .NET, the company's new architecture for Internet-based computing over the next decade, was announced at around the same time. Thanks in part to mainframe-style, tight configuration control, and with unified support services with its channel partners, the actual field experience with Windows 2000 Datacenter Server on user and partner sites has been very positive. In our view, it now provides a highly cost-effective alternative in the high-end space, previously the exclusive province of proprietary RISC or mainframe OS.

In addition, Microsoft has now delivered the accompanying family of key middle-ware software products. These are now known as the .NET Enterprise Servers and are for the Windows 2000 platform. They provide significant gains in functionality, XML support and performance in new releases of the old favourites - SQL Server 2000, Exchange Server 2000, IIS 2000, etc. - as well as in significant new components like Application Center Server 2000, for managing clustered servers. Tightly integrated with the Windows 2000 family, the .NET Enterprise Servers provide a powerful and competitive middle-ware stack and application enabling software (such as BizTalk 2000 Server and Commerce Server 2000) for the architecture shown in Figure 1 above.

With some $23 billion in revenues, profits of $9.4 billion and $3.8 billion R&D spend last year, and now with over 39,000 employees, Microsoft remains a leading pillar of the New Era E-Infrastructure in computing. In its own words, the Redmond giant describes itself thus: "Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the world-wide leader in software for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software - any time, any place, and on any device."

Kay Johnston, Alliance Manager, Microsoft EMEA, was quoted as saying: "Microsoft's.NET strategy, which incorporates Windows 2000 Datacenter Server, makes businesses agile, especially in the face of increased competition, reduced time-to-market and cost efficiencies. When you combine these with products and services from Unisys, Cisco Systems, Intel, and EMC, you have an unbeatable combination."

Ever modest, the company claim that its extensive investment in R&D has resulted in a "comprehensive software, services, and partnership offering which provides a unique value proposition for the Enterprise using Windows 2000 Datacenter and the .NET Enterprise Servers." Microsoft says that it is helping large enterprises transform and adapt the way they do business to enable them to respond and compete with agility in the digital economy. Particular focus will be put on the Windows 2000 Datacenter Server OS to illustrate the highest level of scalability and availability for line-of-business and e-commerce applications. Microsoft works closely with many leadings partners Unisys, Intel, Cisco Systems, and EMC, which, its says, offers valuable "one-stop" integrated solutions for mission-critical computing.

Phew! Strong words and claims from Microsoft. Behind the hype, Software Strategies' research, over many months, indicates that a real break-though has indeed been achieved with these products, and that the basic claims and statements made have much validity.

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