REDMOND, Wash., June 6, 2000 — Kelly Balmer is $1 million richer thanks to her knowledge of arcane facts about space travel, a cutting-edge Internet service and Microsoft technology. In a hectic hour of interactive, online gaming, the Springfield, Mo., resident beat out more than two million other cyber contestants last month to win the first grand prize for GoldPocket.com’s weekly Internet trivia game.
GoldPocket Interactive and its online host Data Return Corp. relied on Microsoft Windows 2000 Server and other network services to handle the massive load of cyber traffic generated by the contestants — the most ever to play an online, interactive game. They are happy they did.
“It’s almost unheard of for a server’s Internet application to handle more than two million users at once, particularly the complex, time-critical interactions required with GoldPocket.com. That’s why we use Windows 2000 Server,”
said Jason Lochhead, Data Return’s co-founder and chief technology officer.
“It is a world-class operating system, on par or better than any other operating system out there.”
The success of online ventures such as GoldPocket.com is an example of why Data Return and many other service providers consider Windows 2000 the next generation of networking platforms. Microsoft plans to continue spreading the word this week at SUPERCOMM 2000, in Booth 1027, with live demonstrations of complete, end-to-end solutions based on the Windows 2000 platform. SUPERCOMM is being held in Atlanta, Ga., and is North America’s largest telecommunications trade show.
“We’re going all-out to show Windows 2000 in real, live network environments — powering highly reliable and massively scalable solutions for next generation network services today,”
said Thomas Koll, vice president of Microsoft’s Network Solutions Group.
“We’re showing how service providers can use Windows 2000 to deploy their most important services with the knowledge that the underlying platform provides the complete coverage and service they and their customers demand.”
Groundswell of support
Success stories such as Data Return’s speak to the scalability, reliability and cost effectiveness of Windows 2000. So do independent research studies, other benchmarks, and the increasing number of service providers adopting the Windows platform. For example, British Telecommunications, FutureLink and Qwest Communications are among the hundreds of companies leveraging Microsoft platforms to build and grow their businesses.
“One of the biggest misconceptions about Microsoft is that our platforms are not ‘telecom ready’. In reality, Windows 2000 offers service providers the most scalable, reliable, flexible and affordable platform out there,”
said Jonathan Usher, group manager for service provider marketing in Microsoft’s Network Solutions Group.
“In fact, there is a groundswell of support for the Windows platform in the operations support systems industry, for example,”
“In today’s quickly evolving industry, service providers need to ensure that their network management, billing, customer care and provisioning capabilities support their customers’ needs. They need to deploy these systems cost effectively, quickly and with the understanding that the solutions can grow with them. Windows 2000 is tailor-made for these tasks.”
GoldPocket.com winner Balmer said she
“felt like she was hallucinating”
after correctly answering the final question (
“Who was the first dog in outer space?”
Answer: Laika) to win the weekly game show’s first $1 million prize on May 23. Data Return is similarly pleased by Windows 2000 Server and its impact on the company’s bottom line.
Along with the weekly GoldPocket.com game, Data Return has used Windows 2000 Server to host two other massive Web events: Victoria Secret’s live fashion show last month from Cannes, France, and traffic from several ads shown during Super Bowl XXXIV earlier this year. Customers with smaller but growing demands also have been pleased with Windows 2000.
“We’ve had customers who were having scalability problems before they came to Data Return. With Windows 2000, we were able to put them in a flexible new environment where they have plenty of room to grow,”
PC Magazine’s recent Web Platforms roundup attests to the computing power and scalability of Windows 2000. The magazine determined a 4-processor Windows 2000 Server platform was able to process more than 3,500 requests per second — or 300 million a day — in its API Dynamic E-Commerce benchmark test. That’s more than twice the maximum for the closest competitor, the 4-processor Solaris/iPlanet platform.
Windows 2000 also tops a key Transaction Processing Performance Council benchmark. The Microsoft solution, which was running Windows 2000 Server and Microsoft SQL Server on Compaq ProLiant 8500 systems, delivered the top performance ever recorded on the TPC-C benchmark earlier this year. The Windows 2000 and SQL Server combination registered 227,079 transactions per minute — nearly double Sun Microsystems’ best result of 135,461 tpm. Each solution used 96 processors. Along with providing better overall performance, the Microsoft solution cost less than one third the price of the Sun solution.
“In price performance, Windows 2000 offers more than anyone else,”
“It saves us money and that saves the customer money.”
Windows 2000 is cutting costs another way for Interland Inc.: It is all but eliminating system downtime.
“Now that we have Windows 2000, we can be assured of less downtime,”
said Robert Malally, chief technology officer for the Atlanta-based Web hosting provider. This translates to less money spent on technicians.
“We’re definitely getting a better return on our investment with the Windows 2000 Server,”
An independent study earlier this year by Aberdeen Group confirms the reliability of Windows 2000 Server. The market research and consulting organization found the networks of nine dot-com sites that made the move early to Windows 2000 were available a combined 99.95 percent of the time. From Aberdeen’s perspective, this level of availability is
since most accounts still hadn’t fully optimized Windows 2000, upgraded to the final release, or built expertise in the product.
With several companies creating high availability platforms that run Windows 2000, Microsoft expects service providers to be able to deploy these platforms for their most mission critical applications — ones that require 99.999-percent or better availability. For example, advanced configurations of Stratus’ upcoming ftServer, running Windows 2000, are expected to offer 99.9999-percent hardware availability. That’s less than one minute of downtime per year.
When Data Return hosts mammoth Web events, such as the GoldPocket.com games, they keep technicians at the ready in case of problems. But, Lochhead said, they’ve not been needed.
“The platform is very consistent,”
“Provided there aren’t any problems with the Internet or connectivity, we’re confident that things will run smoothly.”
Microsoft understands the importance of reliability.
“Service providers can’t afford for a service to be down. They lose revenue. They lose customer satisfaction. They may even lose their customer to a competitor,”
New Business Opportunities in Mobile Data and Hosting
Building on scalability, reliability and cost savings, Windows 2000 enables service providers to take full advantage of new areas of opportunity such as mobile data services and delivering software and other applications via the Internet.
Active Directory makes it easier for service providers to support multiple clients or clients whose users rely on more than their home PC to communicate and navigate the Web, Koll said. It does so by centralizing the management of network users, allowing service providers to structure their networks and users into groups that are easier to manage.
“Active Directory also allows service providers to recognize and accommodate everything from cell phones to desktop systems, from laptops to handheld PCs,”
“Ease of use is where a service provider’s business becomes visible to customers. As competition has increased, customers have begun to expect easier access to services — even real time provisioning they can do over the Internet.”
Interland plans to take advantage of these advances when it expands its business into application hosting. Malally says that a Windows 2000-based solution is the first offering the company intends to roll out.
“Windows 2000 will be the cornerstone of our development in this area,”
“A lot of the applications customers look for are very rich. Windows offers these applications and allows us to handle them.”
In addition to its focus on developing and delivering great software, Microsoft has a strong focus on partnerships and initiatives for the service provider industry.
Since its formation in 1999, the Microsoft-led Operations Support Systems Working Group has grown from 26 to 37 members. It brings together telecommunications management network vendors to develop technology solutions for service providers. The group has expanded its focus recently to employ new, open technologies — such as XML, SOAP and directory services — to develop the next generation of Web applications for service providers.
The company also opened an expanded Microsoft Partner Solutions Center in March to help service providers rapidly produce and deploy solutions to their latest networking and service challenges. The 21,000-square-foot facility at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond allows partners to build and test
which service providers can customize and quickly deliver to their customers.
In addition, Microsoft continues to work with key companies in the industry such as Qwest, Nextel, AT & T, Lucent, Cisco, Ericsson, Nortel, Compaq, HP and others, to help them rapidly deploy new solutions. A key part of this work involves Microsoft providing technical guidance to help these companies take best advantage of new technologies.
“Microsoft is both a technology provider and a business partner to service providers,”
“When they win, we all win, especially consumers who increasingly rely on and benefit from network services, whether they know it or not.”
That includes a Midwesterner who can count her benefits — all one million of them.