Microsoft Readies Next Version of BackOffice Server Suite

REDMOND, Wash., Jan. 12, 1999 — Using Microsoft’s BackOffice server has enabled Antelope Valley Hospital, a 355-bed facility located in Lancaster, Calif., to reduce the costs of day-to-day operations such as managing patient records and scheduling operating rooms.

“BackOffice Server allows us to reliably deploy very complex applications on a single system,” said Ash Shehata, director of information systems at Antelope Valley Hospital. “This has allowed us to reduce our support costs by more than 20 percent with little or no downtime.” Many other organizations are using BackOffice Server as a branch office standard. More than half of all Fortune 200 companies currently use the product, as do 45 of 50 state governments in the U.S. and all cabinet-level federal agencies.

Deploying applications on computer servers is expected to become even simpler with BackOffice Server 4.5, the next version of BackOffice Server announced by Microsoft this week. Currently in beta testing, BackOffice Server 4.5 will be updated for SQL Server 7.0 and Systems Management Server 2.0, and will offer new suite-only features to speed up and simplify the deployment and management of servers.

“The development team was very focused on simplifying and reducing the cost of deploying BackOffice Server in this new version,” said Kevin Breunig, group product manager for BackOffice Server at Microsoft. One example of this work is the drastic reduction in the number of actual screens customers see during setup. Before, customers might have seen as many as 100 screens, but with BackOffice Server 4.5, that number may be around 10 or 20. That translates into a huge time savings for customers.”

BackOffice Server 4.5 introduces several new features to make deployment easier. For example, the product automatically detects the current configuration of a server and recommends the appropriate component and service pack upgrades. It also speeds up the setup process by providing default settings for many common parameters.

BackOffice Server 4.5 also helps information technology (IT) managers to generate setup scripts automatically once they have established a standard server configuration. It includes a deployment wizard that enables IT managers to replicate a single server script across hundreds of servers, automatically updating machine names and parameter settings as required. And it includes a Branch Office setup scenario that automatically defaults to the proper settings for a remote location.

“Customers have told us they want to consolidate the number of servers they are managing, and reduce the complexity of managing those servers,” said Rich Tong, vice president of marketing for the Application and Tools Group at Microsoft. “BackOffice Server makes it easy to drop an integrated infrastructure or application server into a branch or department, and replicate that configuration throughout the organization with a standardized console for managing those servers.”

BackOffice also includes features to improve administration. For example, it contains a new BackOffice Server Manager console that provides a single point of administration for common tasks as well as four consoles optimized for entry-level helpdesk technicians, Web administrators, branch office administrators and central IT administrators.

Finally, BackOffice Server 4.5 provides improved application server features. It provides the easiest way for customers to roll out and manage a WinDNA architecture, including application server components such as a Web, e-mail, collaboration, database and search server. It offers services for host integration, Internet access and desktop management. And it provides the latest server components that fully exploit Office 2000, including an OLAP Server in SQL Server 7.0 that ingrates with Excel, e-mail and collaboration based on the Exchange Server and Outlook 2000 and a Web server for deploying Office server extensions. A fully functional Intranet Starter Site is set up out of the box, and seven different starter applications illustrate how to build solutions that integrate multiple components in the BackOffice family of products.

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