Microsoft Outlines Vision for Directory Scalability and Performance

REDMOND, Wash., March 18, 1999 — Microsoft Corp. today announced its position on scalability and performance requirements for enterprise directory services. In conjunction with Compaq Computer Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc., Microsoft also released the results of tests that show that the Microsoft® Active Directory
™directory service of the Windows® 2000 Server operating system will scale and perform to meet the needs of customers ranging from Internet service providers (ISPs) to the largest enterprises.

Customers are looking for directory services that will hold millions of objects, support hundreds of clients submitting simultaneous queries, and replicate data efficiently to many different sites – even over wide area networking (WAN) connections. Storage capacity is important because many companies want to store an increasing amount of data in directory services to improve access to information. Strong query performance is required because users, machines, devices and applications contact directories constantly to locate network resource; without fast response times, directories quickly become bottlenecks. Companies need efficient replication to store copies of directories throughout their network, such as in regional offices, to improve availability and response times. Microsoft’s tests, combined with results from Compaq and Cisco Systems, show that Active Directory simultaneously exceeds all practical requirements for storage capacity, query performance and scalability in a replicated environment.

“The future of directory services, even in the Internet space, is not going to be about large machines holding large standalone directories,” said Larry Gauthier, senior analyst at the Burton Group. “It’s going to be about the ability to get good performance out of directory services where replicas are geographically disbursed.”

The performance and scalability test modeled a large, geographically diverse company with a headquarters location and 100 smaller regional sites. The headquarters were connected with high-speed networks, and the regional sites were linked to the headquarters location by a variety of WAN technologies. The headquarters location contained a replica of Active Directory on each of 20 servers, and a replica of Active Directory was on a server machine in each of the 100 regional sites. All replicas contained a complete view of the company’s data and supported full query and update operations. In this configuration, Active Directory showed the ability to sustain over 300,000 individual changes per day – where adding a user account or changing a password produces one change – providing enough replication capacity to support even large enterprises and Internet service providers.

“As should be expected from all modern directory technologies, the ability of Active Directory to scale efficiently on a single machine is limited only by the hardware available,” said Jim Allchin, senior vice president of the personal and business systems group at Microsoft Corp. “More important, customers have made it clear that we must deliver results beyond just storage capacity. We must also provide exceptional query performance and replication efficiency. The results of these tests demonstrate the ability of Active Directory to scale in all of the dimensions that matter most to customers.”

In tests performed at Compaq’s European Benchmark Center in Sophia-Antipolis, France, Compaq demonstrated 16 million user objects loaded into a production configuration of Active Directory on 4-CPU AlphaServer 4100 machines with 2 GB of memory. The object database occupied 68.8 GB and grew in a linear fashion during the load, and response time to clients was maintained throughout, showing that significant additional capacity remained.

“As the world’s leading provider of Windows NT® -based solutions for the enterprise, Compaq intends to remain at the leading edge when it comes to offering scalable infrastructures for our enterprise customers,” said Franc Gentili, director, enterprise Windows NT segment Compaq Services. “Compaq is already working to help enterprise customers prepare for smooth and rapid deployment of Windows 2000 and Active Directory. With the results of our tests, we are confident that the Active Directory will meet the needs of large enterprises everywhere.”

“Cisco, in its strategic development partnership with Microsoft, is jointly building carrier-class directory services – that will scale to Internet dimensions – based on Active Directory,” said Ray Bell, director of engineering in Cisco’s service provider line of business. “Cisco’s initial scalability tests show that a fully replicated Active Directory environment – in a configuration typical of Internet service provider use – scales easily to 10 million objects using common Intel Pentium-based multiprocessor servers. We expect that Internet service providers will be able to deploy a distributed directory holding more than 100 million objects in a multidomain configuration.”

Additional tests by Cisco showed that a server running Active Directory services containing more than 7 million objects was able to service 5,000 queries per second generated from 100 clients. The ability of the Active Directory to handle this volume of queries enables Internet service provider customers to support tens of millions of users and provide a consistent user experience as the number of subscribers increases.

Windows 2000 Server delivers a comprehensive set of distributed infrastructure services based on the Active Directory, the multipurpose directory service that is scalable, built from the ground up using Internet-standard technologies, and fully integrated at the operating system level. The Active Directory simplifies administration, makes it easier for users to find resources throughout an enterprise network, and provides a scalable infrastructure for directory-enabled applications and networking.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft, Active Directory, Windows and Windows NT are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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