IBM bets big, not blindly, on Win2000

IBM may be betting big on Windows 2000, but it isn't betting blindly.

At a two-day Windows 2000 forum for the press at IBM's Research Triangle Park facility, IBM officials reiterated the company's commitment to Microsoft's next-generation operating system. When Microsoft ships Windows 2000 -- which is expected to be late this year or early next, IBM will have more than 250 PC models that will be on Microsoft's compatibility list. As of the day Windows 2000 ships, 300 IBM middleware and system-software products will exploit Windows 2000, officials said. And IBM Global Services is building 16 Microsoft-specific practices, many of which revolve around Windows 2000.

At the same time, however, IBM sees some potential problem areas for Windows 2000, acknowledges Patrick Gibney, IBM director of Windows 2000 Systems. On the security front, Windows 2000's Kerberos implementation is not compatible with IBM's DCE Kerberos model, Gibney says. While he characterised Microsoft's implementation as industry-standard, Gibney noted that Microsoft has yet to deliver on its promised interoperability solution in this area. Synchronisation at issue, too Another area where interoperability concerns are emerging is in the directory-synchronisation area, Gibney says. Since January, Microsoft has not provided testers with an updated version of its Dirsynch framework that can handle two-way synchronisation, Gibney says. So far, the agent is one-way only: from Novell Directory Services to Active Directory, he says. The result is that Windows 2000 does not currently provide proven synchronisation with other LDAP directories.

Gibney also expressed some qualms about Microsoft's directions with its Microsoft Management Console. Enterprise systems management vendors like IBM's Tivoli or Computer Associates International "don't want to give up their glass views", Gibney noted. Yet all third-party software vendors are expected to create snap-ins to MMC, resulting in their user interfaces being subsumed by Windows 2000's MMC view. Gibney also questioned how and if Microsoft will reconcile Web-based systems management with the its graphical-user-interface-centric model.

Out of the gate Internally, IBM is working with Beta 3 Release Candidate 1 of Windows 2000, Gibney says. The company is still expecting Microsoft to release to manufacturing Windows 2000 in October, launch the product at Fall Comdex and offer widescale availability in January 2000. As a result, IBM is planning a phased approach to Windows 2000 adoption, he says, with a number of core IBM software products not expected to fully exploit the operating system until middle to late 2000. IBM's Software Suites for NT, for example, won't be Windows 2000-ready until June 2000, according to current plan.

But other IBM products will be Windows 2000-ready early on, Gibney says. These will include DB2 Universal Database, Lotus Domino, MQSeries, SecureWay Communications Server, Websphere Application Server, VisualAge for Java and Net.Commerce.

Later this fall, IBM Global Services will kick off IBM's Windows 2000 campaign, launching a number of Enterprise Services for Microsoft Technologies. The first set of Windows 2000-specific services will include Readiness Evaluation; Readiness Assessment; LAN/WAN Environment Architecture; Windows 2000 New Features; Server Consolidation; Interoperability; Migration NT4 Networks to Windows 2000; Migration Non-Microsoft Networks To Windows 2000; and Implementation of New Microsoft Networks on Windows 2000.

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