MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., March 26, 2001 — Its a bright, sunny day in Mountain View, Calif., and Nav Bhachech is heading from one meeting to another. He can only chat for a few minutes — such is life these days for Bhachech, the managing consultant for the new Silicon Valley Microsoft Technology Center (MTC). With just over a week until the official launch of the facility, the center is already humming with activity.
“Were going to be pretty much at capacity at launch,
Were still building out some of the equipment, but other than that, were at full capacity.”
The fact that the MTC is so busy before it even opens is an indication of how valuable this resource will be for the Silicon Valley community, according to Bhachech. An enormous facility with 10 laboratory suites, 26,000 square feet of space, two 40-seat classrooms, a staff of senior consulting specialists and a whole host of training and educational programs, the Silicon Valley MTC is the latest — and the largest — in a series of Microsoft Technology Centers being built around the world. Opening day events will feature a keynote from Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates.
“I think what is unique about this facility, in relation to some of the other MTCs, is that were located right in the heart of the action, in the epicenter of the tech world, and were scaled appropriately in terms of being the largest technology center investment for Microsoft,” Bhachech says.
The MTCs bring together the latest Microsoft software, senior Microsoft consultants and some of the best hardware available, all in a secure and secluded environment. The result is that customers, developers and partners have direct access to all these elements for testing their implementations, tuning their Web architectures and developing their own applications, so they know what does and doesnt work before they make the costly up-front investments required for implementation.
“The MTCs provide a place where we can listen to our customers, hear their concerns and deliver the services they need in an accelerated and focused fashion,” says Peter Boit, vice president of Microsofts E-Commerce Solutions Group and head of the companys MTC efforts. “Customers need facilities that let them ‘kick the tires,’ see solutions, get proof, so they can walk out the door with a blueprint for success.”
The MTC-SV features state-of-the-art hardware from Compaq and Unisys, both of which are founding partners of the center. Both companies have outfitted labs at the center to allow customers to try all kinds of configurations. Whether a customer wants to scale up and run on a 32-processor ES7000 from Unisys, or scale out and use a series of dual-processor Compaq servers, the center is outfitted to handle almost any scenario.
“We have very high-end equipment — even for a lab like this, where customers expect us to have nice stuff,” Bhachech says. “We have multiple dual processors, quad processors, eight-way boxes, and it all connects up to a storage area network within each lab. Each lab is a self-contained, state-of-the-art facility with the equipment Compaq has provided, and Unisys has brought in another exciting dimension with the 32-processor ES7000 machines that they have, which are really targeted at the very high end of scalability and operational requirements. Basically, we are able to scale as high as is possible in the Windows world — which really means any site on the Web today.”
One large Web site that will use the new facility at launch is Sunnyvale, Calif.-based McAfee.com, a premier distributor of Web-based utilities that let users protect, update and maintain their PCs. McAfee is the worlds largest consumer applications provider, and a major force in the application services industry with over 800,000 unique visitors to its site each day. The company is using the new center to test run its upcoming migration to Microsoft SQL Server, and the facility provides enough resources to allow McAfee to implement the new architecture and test the performance of its applications, on a scale at par with its current live operations.
“Before the MTC, we would have ended up building a test bed in our own facility, which couldnt have nearly the capability of our production facility, because obviously you cant make the same investment,” says Doug Cavit, chief information officer at McAfee. “We would have had to test it as best we could and then hope it all went as planned when we actually put the system into production. So this new center really fills a big need for us.”
The advantages of the MTC lie not only with the massive scalability and performance the facilitys hardware provides, but also with the quality of the consultants on site, according to Cavit. “Were interested in benchmarking those platforms and understanding what their capabilities are,” he says.
And just having enough iron, enough horses to do significant load testing, that to me is a major plus here.
“But were also very interested in engaging with the consultants that Microsoft has in place here to understand what things we could be doing better. We have an application thats doing well today, but were looking forward to the migration, and to working with the Microsoft resources there as well.”
Its exactly that sentiment of working together with Silicon Valley companies that has drawn Microsoft to the area in the first place, and its an attitude pervasive throughout the center. Talk to anyone involved with the new facility, and invariably youll hear about working together and combining resources, and a serious commitment to being there for companies in the Silicon Valley.
“The centers focus is really on the Silicon Valley community,” says Dayna Fried, a spokesperson for Compaq. “What Compaq is doing and its commitment to the center is part of our long-term relationship with Microsoft. Its also about our joint commitment to the marketplace, to this marketplace in the Silicon Valley that needs this kind of facility and services.”
Martin Krempasky, a spokesperson for Unisys, agrees. “Its very important for Unisys to have a presence in the Silicon Valley,” he says. “Our ES7000 platform can really take advantage of the scalability of Windows 2000 Datacenter, and its important for a lot of the companies in the Valley to have a place to start checking these things out. It helps them understand which way they want to go, and it helps us understand their needs. So its a win-win situation for everybody.”
And that, says Bhachech, is what the MTC is all about. “Were trying to give our customers a holistic approach,” he says. “Were working very closely with our traditional and partners, and some non-traditional ones, to make sure our customers get the whole picture, so theyre not stuck later with problems of trying to integrate the different pieces. Were bringing a lot of our partners into the center, along with some of our really high-powered consultants and seminars featuring some of the top names in the industry. And its all so customers here in the Valley can find everything they need in one place to help them be successful with Microsoft technology.”
So far, the strategy seems to be working.
“The way I characterize it,” Cavit says, “is that Microsoft has set up another down payment on its commitment to the enterprise and to the Valley. The MTC demonstrates its commitment not just to provide the software foundation and services, but also the consulting services to help implement those. And Microsoft will now have a place in the Valley where companies like ours can go and try out these products, see them in action and actually have senior Microsoft consultants assist in putting the pieces together.”