Windows in the Heart Of the Data Center

By Robert L. Mitchell, Computer World |  Development

Datacenter Server wants to be your enterprise operating system -- or at least Microsoft Corp. wants it to be.

With features like 32-processor symmetric multiprocessing support, load balancing and clustering capabilities, the newest version of Windows looks good on paper. But it takes more than good specs to gain entry to the data center.

Computerworld's Robert L. Mitchell recently spoke with Peter Conway, director of Windows enterprise server marketing at Microsoft. They discussed how Datacenter stacks up against the competition and how it proposes to meet the demands of data center managers.

Q: In the data center, IT managers say they're concerned with maintaining stable applications over a long period of time. Traditionally, Microsoft has forced people to re-evaluate their applications and system hardware every time it comes out with a new operating system revision. Will this happen with Datacenter Server?

A: No. We will continue to encourage our customers to move forward and upgrade. We of course want to be the most competitive platform, but customers have requirements to stay on versions for extended periods of time, and we've made allowances for that.

For example, our OEM partners have an extended window of support . . . for the base platform. They have a minimum five-year support requirement. For those relationships that [go] beyond that five-year window, we will work against the business needs of [those] customers.

Q: Microsoft says it has made special efforts to ensure that Datacenter Server is reliable, yet at least some IT managers may be hesitant to bring Windows into the data center, citing a legacy of reliability issues surrounding Windows. What is Microsoft doing to change that perception?

A: We are delivering a combination of product services, support and partners to execute on the promise of reliability. Your question actually belies our problem in that Windows is prevalent in the industry. So, as a result, even if we have 100 customers running over [99.99%] of business availability, we still get hurt by the one customer that's not running at that level.

Q: Is there a business case for migrating applications to Datacenter Server from midrange systems from companies like Sun Microsystems and IBM?

A: These days, with the integration of the legacy environment with new classes of Web-based applications, there is a massive amount of innovation going on. Many customers in a proprietary environment lose flexibility over time in that they're tied to a particular [hardware] supplier. Then they get involved in a forklift remove-and-replace of the hardware, and they've got to port the application to another environment.

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