Microsoft fleshes out its .Net server lineup

Two of the last pieces of Microsoft's newest line of enterprise servers rolled off the assembly line last week, but the software means little until corporate Windows 2000 deployments are complete.

Microsoft shipped its Internet Security and Acceleration Server 2000 (ISA), a firewall and cache, and completed development on Application Center 2000 server. AppCenter, which is designed for managing Web server farms, should ship in four to six weeks.

Both servers, which promise to add security and management features to Windows-based networks, are part of Microsoft's .Net Enterprise Server lineup. The eight servers in the line run exclusively on Win 2000, which is showing a slower than anticipated adoption rate, according to Gartner Group. Microsoft is hoping interest in the .Net servers will trigger upgrades to Win 2000.

Seven .Net servers have been completed: Exchange 2000, SQL 2000, Host Integration Server 2000, Commerce Server 2000, BizTalk Server 2000, ISA and AppCenter. An eighth, Mobile Information Server 2001, will ship later this year.

ISA, which replaces Microsoft's Proxy Server, provides access controls, traffic filtering, intrusion detection, bandwidth control, application-layer filters and reporting capabilities. The server marks Microsoft's first serious attempt to enter the security market.

"We were able to trap more than 50,000 instances of the Anna Kournikova virus just last week using content-sniffing features in ISA," said the CTO of a major Western university who requested anonymity. "ISA doesn't have the features of a full-blown firewall, but it is adequate for many IT organizations."

Microsoft faces a challenge in convincing customers it's a security vendor, especially in light of recent breaches of its network.

"We have to build credibility for ISA with certification and third-party testing," says Lucian Lui, product manager for ISA.

Last week, Microsoft also unveiled AppCenter, which lets users "scale out" Web sites by adding more servers instead of deploying larger machines.

"Without this product, Microsoft doesn't have much meat behind its scale-out message," says John Enck, a Gartner Group analyst.

From a single console, AppCenter can manage distributed applications, replicate services for components and files, monitor performance health, and set self-healing mechanisms for hardware and software. It also has application synchronization to ensure an application's content, configuration and components are identical across all servers.

"It consolidates our management, helps improve our processes and removes the inconsistencies of configuring these servers by hand," says Yi Liu, IT manager for Embark, which provides online services for the higher-education market.

The suggested retail price for AppCenter 2000 is $3,000 per processor. The Standard Edition of ISA is priced at $1,500 per CPU, and the Enterprise Edition is $6,000 per CPU.

This story, "Microsoft fleshes out its .Net server lineup " was originally published by Network World.

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