Can Windows scale to the data center?

By Robert L. Mitchell, Computer World |  Operating Systems

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 specifications 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: Why should corporate IT bring Datacenter Server into the data center?

A: We really want our customers to understand what a serious commitment Microsoft is making to them through this product. We're making a significant investment in the relationship with those customers and our joint partners. We understand that it's the combination that makes this happen. Making a significant business commitment . . . is very different [from] what Microsoft has done previously. It's a huge sea change for us.

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 the company 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 [reseller] 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: Who are the early adopters of Datacenter Server, and what types of applications are they running?

A: They are in very aggressive businesses. The financial sector, ASPs [application service providers], dot-coms. I am working with about 30 [customers], and each is looking for cost advantages and competitive advantages relative to their competition. Most are looking for very fast deployments and lots of flexibility because they're unsure of how their businesses will evolve.

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?

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