Windows DNA 2000 to Enable Web Services for Businesses
ORLANDO, Fla., June 5, 2000 — In his keynote speech today at Tech Ed 2000, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates focused on Microsoft’s vision for developing a new generation of integrated, enterprise Web applications and how the Windows DNA 2000 platform and its foundation, the Windows 2000 operating system, may be used by developers now to begin building Web Services. Windows DNA 2000 is Microsoft’s end-to-end platform for rapidly creating scalable e-commerce, line-of-business and Web solutions that integrate with customers, partners, business processes and existing applications.
To learn more about how Windows DNA 2000 can help businesses create next-generation Web applications, PressPass spoke with Chris Atkinson, vice president of Microsoft’s Windows DNA and Web Services Solutions Group about the power of Windows DNA 2000.
PressPass: In his speech last month at Microsoft’s fourth annual CEO Summit, Bill Gates talked about what he called the
“Third Stage of the Internet.”
What is this third stage all about?
Atkinson : I like to think of it this way: In stage one, the Internet was largely an academic phenomenon, a way for university researchers to share information. Then, with stage two, we launched into the Web era. Suddenly you had global connectivity, real simplicity of use, and access to huge amounts of information. In this stage, the Internet moved from the academic arena into the mainstream. That’s well and good, but there are still plenty of limits-it’s basically a read-only medium where the user has very little control, and it doesn’t yet adapt well to a range of devices.
Now we’re starting to move into a new phase that is much more exciting and much more challenging. What we’re talking about is a new generation of Web services where users will decide exactly what information they want to receive and then control the timing and manner in which it is delivered. You’ll be able pull together information from a wide range of sources and receive them on a whole host of different devices that are capable of very smart interaction. It will mean a much richer, more powerful experience. Our goal is to empower people by providing the software that will give them access to these services any time, on any device.
For businesses, this third stage is a whole new way of conducting operations. We’re now moving to a real-time, online economy where companies open up their systems to partners and suppliers and truly begin to automate many of their business processes through integration over the Web.
PressPass: How does Windows DNA 2000 fit in?
Atkinson : We’re just at the beginning of this third stage. The difficulty right now is that, number one, building e-business applications is hard and, number two, deploying them so that they interact smoothly with other people’s e-business applications is even harder.
In the past, developers spent all their time building internal applications, and the big challenge was getting them to work across an entire organization. If on top of that I wanted my company linked into yours, I had to have my system architect get on the phone with your system architect to talk about protocols and mapping, and then they had to write some special code – a hardwired connection. It was all very brittle. And if I wanted to link with four partners in my supply chain, I had to get five system architects talking and the complexity just became exponential.
Today, with e-business becoming more common, figuring out how to link potentially limitless numbers of partners together becomes a much more daunting challenge. What happens if you’re an IT director and you’ve got to tie in with 50 partners? Or 500? Or 5,000? The Windows DNA 2000 family provides all of the core server elements you need to build great applications and then integrate them across organizations in an efficient, cost-effective way. We’ve really focused on developer productivity. We recognize that there is this rare commodity called developer hours and we’ve built Windows DNA 2000 to allow developers to maximize productivity by spending less time on plumbing and more time on features.
PressPass: What are the pieces that make up Windows DNA 2000?
Atkinson : With the introduction of Windows 2000 Microsoft delivered the first, most important promise of the
vision. Windows 2000 – the foundation of Windows DNA 2000 – offers incredible reliability and performance along with an unprecedented ability to scale both up and out. The speed with which it has been adopted speaks for itself. Over 1.5 million sold. And more than 8,500 compatible applications. Those are incredible numbers.
With Windows DNA 2000, Microsoft will now deliver the next wave of promises -and these server applications are some of the most important products we will deliver this year. SQL Server 2000, which went into wide public beta testing in April, is the core data storage engine. It’s the easiest database on the market to build and manage, and it offers fully Web-enabled native XML support along with record-setting scalability and mission-critical availability.
Commerce Server 2000 provides a comprehensive infrastructure for doing e-business, whether it is B2B or B2C, offering really fast time-to-market along with all of the tools that business managers need to analyze information and make solid business decisions.
Host Integration Server 2000 and BizTalk Server 2000 were created to solve the challenges of integration. BizTalk Server 2000 is the centerpiece, providing an industrial strength infrastructure that enables businesses to integrate applications both within their organization and across companies. Host Integration Server 2000 allows businesses to leverage the XML support of Windows 2000 to integrate with legacy systems.
Application Center 2000, an exciting new addition to the DNA family, simplifies the task of maintaining and managing Windows DNA 2000 applications running on clusters of commodity servers. We feel that the most cost-effective way for a large site to achieve the scalability it needs is to unite a group of 20-30 smaller servers, rather than one or two mega-servers. The benefits are that if one server goes down, you’re only losing a small percentage of your capacity and it also allows much greater flexibly as demand changes. Application Center 2000 enables you to run a large server farm as if it was just one application on a single server. The results are simplified management and mission critical availability with no single point of failure.
In addition, Exchange Server 2000, Microsoft’s enterprise messaging and collaboration server, expands the Windows DNA 2000 family, delivering great services for developers to build and deploy applications that provide access to people and information any time and any place.
PressPass: There’s a lot of talk about Web services and the ability of Windows DNA to deliver Web services, but it’s not always entirely clear what that means. Can you explain what Web services are, exactly?
Atkinson : A Web service is basically an application that talks to another application using Internet standards.
So what does that mean? It means I can put an application on my Web site that says,
“I have this service and if you give me a certain amount information, I’ll provide the following information in return.”
For example, say I’m an insurance broker. I can put an application on my Web site that says,
“Tell me your age and medical history, and I’ll give you insurance quotes from 10 different companies.”
The beauty of this service is that the application can pull in information from the sites of dozens of companies and the end user neither knows nor needs to care about all that’s happening behind the scenes automatically.
This is great for consumers, because it means access to much richer functionality over the Web. Instead of reading static pages, or browsing online catalogs and ordering books, the Web becomes a fabric for rich interactions. For businesses, Web services make it much easier to integrate with other businesses and provide infrastructure that enables sophisticated and productive communications over the Web.
PressPass: Let’s talk a little about the history of Windows DNA 2000. How has it changed since it was introduced?
Atkinson : When we first announced Windows DNA in September 1997, it was really just an architecture for building distributed Internet applications-a three-tier model instead of a two-tier model, to solve the problems of scalability, availability and complexity.
That was an important step, but when we released Windows DNA, what we heard from our partners and customers was that they wanted us to make it more concrete, more real. Windows DNA then evolved from an architecture into a full-featured platform, with a whole range of services and products, including SQL Server, Site Server Commerce Edition, the application services within Windows NT, Visual Studio and more.
The latest step in that evolution, Windows DNA 2000, takes the platform even further by not only raising the bar for existing products like SQL Server 2000 and Commerce Server 2000, but also by adding revolutionary products like BizTalk Server 2000 and Application Center 2000.
Throughout this process, we’ve really focused on customer input. Our customers say,
“Okay, Windows DNA is great, but integration is really a problem.”
So we create BizTalk Server and Host Integration Server. Or
“Fine, but managing server farms is tough.”
So we deliver Application Center. Then they say,
“Commerce Server helps, but I need better stats and more control.”
So now we deliver beefed up business analysis tools.
We’ve done this in every corner of Windows DNA 2000. And we’ve done so while maintaining our original vision of creating a complete, scalable system that allows developers to use the programming languages best-suited to a specific task rather than forcing them to adopt a one-language-fits-all strategy.
PressPass: How do you think businesses will take advantage of Windows DNA 2000 and Web services to make their organizations work better?
Atkinson : If you look at any organization, it’s really the business analysts who know which applications need to talk to other applications to create an optimal business process. In the past, an analyst would write some specs and toss them over the fence to the developers, who would do the best they could to cobble something together. Often, what the business people asked for wasn’t really possible, or by the time the developer had implemented the requested process it would be out of date.
By moving from an architecture to a platform, we’ve provided tools that make it possible for business analysts and developers to really sit down and collaborate on putting together a full combination of applications that work together seamlessly and elegantly to solve real business issues without creating new problems.
There’s also another important benefit. As new business opportunities arise, Windows DNA 2000 makes it easy for businesses to react quickly to changing conditions and adjust to take advantage of new situations. In the old world it took 18 months to implement an ERP system, and if anything changed in the way you did business it took another 18 months to re-implement the system. Windows DNA 2000 allows Microsoft to deliver on its vision of empowering companies to make constant, real-time changes to their business models as the world changes.
PressPass: As vice president of the Windows DNA and Web Services Solutions Group, you’ve brought a whole array of product teams together under one roof. What does that mean for customers and partners?
Atkinson : Our goal with Windows DNA has always centered around productivity, on providing the best platform for software developers to develop and implement solutions. But in the past, we’ve expected our customers and partners to do a lot of the knitting together on their own.
It used to be that if a customer came to me and said,
“I want to build a B2B platform,”
I had to send him to a half dozen different buildings on the Microsoft campus. I’d have to say,
“First you need to go to Building X to talk to the Site Server Commerce Edition group, then head over to Building Y to meet with the Visual Studio people, and then you’ll want to make your way to building Z to chat with the SQL Server team.”
Now my job is to ensure that we figure out how all this great technology works together before we take it out into the world. Now that we’re all under one roof, we can honestly say,
“If you want a best-of-breed platform to run a best-of-breed B2B, B2C, or B2E solution, we’ve built it, we’ve integrated it, we’ve tested it and it has been proven in the real world.”