Microsoft unleashes .Net in Asia

With a new server architecture to cover the whole spectrum of e-business activity, and impressive benchmark test results, and, of course, a formidable marketting team, MS may just be a step away from seizing a chunk of the Asian market for itself.

Microsoft pushes forward its .Net program in Asia with the launch of its line of enterprise servers at a convention in Singapore.

Speaking to more than 800 IT professionals and company executives who attended the event, Christ Atkinson, vice president, .Net developer solutions group, called the launch a "big deal" for Microsoft.

According to Atkinson, the new line of servers is supposed to be Microsoft's first real contender to the space of enterprise servers. They are supposed to rectify the software giant's previously unglamorous entry to provide for enterprise wide IT solutions.

"We haven't always had a good reputation for abilities. I'm the first to admit that," said Atkinson. "People would say, well Windows NT 4 is ok for departmental solutions, but we are not going to trust this for enterprise wide solutions. But really, with Windows 2000, all that has changed."

The line of servers, with no less than 8 server platforms altogether, is certainly comprehensive enough to meet any organization's e-business needs.

There is an XML based, integration server platform, SQL and application platforms, and even a dedicated platform for linking up with mobile devices.

The crucial turning point, according to Atkinson, that finally enables Microsoft to deliver what it is promising to deliver with the new servers, came from architectural decisions that were made two years ago.

That decision was to enable the present line of servers to not only support scalability in terms of scaling up, by building larger systems, but also to "scale out," by adding on extra server pieces in a cluster configuration.

Indeed, according to released TPC-C (Transaction Processing Performance Council) results, Microsoft's platform has been performing under par against Sun's Solaris platform for many years up until about February this year, when the released 2000 generation servers began to outstrip Solaris in TPC-C test scores.

To date, on an 8-way SMP servers test of TPC-C performance, Microsoft's Datacenter server takes the second place with a score of roughly 55 000 tpmc, while Solaris trails at around the 50 000 mark. The top spot goes to IBM's Unix platform AIX.

The TPC-C is a non-profit organisation founded to define transaction processing and database benchmarks and to disseminate objective, verifiable TPC performance data to the industry.

The eight servers that are being launched are Application Center 2000, BizTalk Server 2000, Commerce Server 2000, Exchange 2000 Server, Host Integration Server 2000, Internet Security and Acceleration Server 2000, SQL Server 2000 and Mobile Information 2001 Server.

All the servers will run from the Datacenter Server platform, an enterprise edition of Window 2000, which will serve as an operating environment for the other servers.

A point not frequently made during the event in Singapore, is the scope of functions that the line of servers is expected to cover.

Indeed, taken as a whole, the dedicated function of each of the servers would provide for the entire structure of an organization's IT requisites.

From the desktop to back-end servers, the 2000 server platform is attempting to provide, as a single solution, e-business integration both internally and with organizations outside the firewall.

A D.H. Brown Associates report states, "while comparable point-products exist for Unix platforms, few suppliers have attempted to go as far as Microsoft in combining these functions into a single package with consistent developer tools and management functions."

Currently, Microsoft boasts of a user base of over 500 000 websites on the Windows 2000 platform, prompting Atkinson to proclaim, with little reservation, that "Windows runs the Web."

While the Datacenter, SQL and Host Integration servers are available today, Exchange, BizTalk, Application Center, Commerce and Internet Security are expected to begin shipping by the end of the year. Mobile Information 2001 will only be available next year.

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