Q&A: The Future of Windows Servers and Web Services in Enterprise Computing

Bill Veghte, corporate vice president of the Windows Server Group

LAS VEGAS,May 8, 2002 — Over the past two years, Windows has become the leading operating system for enterprise servers worldwide. Windows 2000 has delivered consistently high value at low cost — a combination that is always welcome, but especially critical during an economic slowdown.

As the Internet rapidly changes the way companies do business, Web services are becoming increasingly important as companies look for new ways to harness the power and potential of the Web. Microsoft recently launched Visual Studio .NET, a set of tools for developing Web services and Web applications, and Windows .NET Server will soon join it in the marketplace.

As corporate vice president of the Windows Server Group, Bill Veghte oversees the development and marketing of the Microsoft Windows server operating systems. PressPass spoke with Veghte before this week’s NetWorld+Interop (N+I 2002) conference in Las Vegas to get his perspective on the future of the Windows platform as a fundamental component of enterprise computing.

PressPass: What trends are you seeing in the enterprise server business, and how are they affecting your decisions about the future of the Windows platform?

Veghte : Well, first, the economic slowdown is having a profound impact on IT spending. Given that, it’s great that all indications we have are that Windows 2000 adoption is still one of the highest priority items for enterprise customers. It’s clear that Windows is playing an increasing role in the enterprise server space.

Second, people are starting to think a lot about the opportunities that Web services offer in terms of business advantage.
“Web services”
has different meanings to different customers, but enterprise customers everywhere are starting to think about the Internet as a powerful internal resource, as well as an external one. The Internet is quickly becoming the backbone of business communication and networking, and customers are looking to the future and starting to think of Web services in terms of greater connectivity of applications, data interoperability, et cetera.

Today, there’s a new way of developing applications for the server. Things haven’t really changed that much for the last eight years, but now most companies are re-evaluating their long-term server development models in terms of the Internet and Web services. The combination of Visual Studio .NET as the tool to develop these next-generation applications and Web services, and Windows .NET Server as the server you use to deploy and operate them, is a huge step forward. Microsoft is very serious about being in the applications-server space, and being the technology leader when it comes to the server you use to deploy and operate Web services.

Third, server
is becoming extremely important. People are attracted to the PC economics of Windows and the Intel architecture. They’re looking for ways to wring out costs, and as they do that they’re consolidating on high-end servers running Windows 2000 Datacenter Server.

PressPass: Given that Windows is playing an increasing role in the enterprise server space, how are things different in the enterprise for Microsoft today than they were when the company launched Windows 2000 in February 2000?

Veghte: When I think about how our role in the enterprise has changed since the launch of Windows 2000, I see dramatic differences. SQL is the leading database provider, running on the Windows platform, and it is delivering great price economics and the highest scale. Exchange recently hit a new milestone of 100 million licenses acquired. Microsoft now has a complete e-business solution stack, from Host Integration Server to BizTalk Server to Content Management Server.

Before we launched Windows 2000, many people believed we were on the right path, but we weren’t there yet as an enterprise-ready platform. We didn’t have strong market presence in terms of volume. We didn’t have any world-record benchmarks. Today, we can say unequivocally we are the world’s leading vendor of server operating systems that can scale from the smallest workgroup to the largest corporate datacenter.

We’re on a very successful trajectory. We hold the world record for the prestigious SAP Standard Application SD three-tier benchmark; all top 10 benchmarks for clustered servers; and two of the top 10 for non-clustered. We can demonstrate scale with customers like the NASDAQ; and the Verizon call center, which stores more than nine terabytes of data on a Windows/SQL installation. And a recent reliability study showed customers running Unisys ES7000 servers for many months without any unscheduled downtime.

Every release pushes us farther into the high-end datacenter, on the basis of greater scalability, 64-bit support, memory mirroring, higher performance, greater reliability, et cetera. We just keep going on that trajectory.

With the advent of Web services and the Internet — followed by our delivery on the Microsoft .NET vision, the Common Language Runtime (CLR), Visual C# and Windows. NET Server — people are viewing Microsoft as a technology leader and enabler around next-generation application and Web services. Bottom line: Businesses today are looking to be more agile, and Windows is delivering better business agility at lower total cost of ownership (TCO).

PressPass: Enterprise support for Windows NT is waning, and Windows .NET Server is in the future. Meanwhile, Windows 2000 is still being deployed in the enterprise. Describe the evolution that’s occurring.

Veghte: Windows 2000 is a huge step forward from Windows NT 4.0 in terms of reliability, scalability and security. There is a whole set of benefits customers can accrue, and have accrued, on the basis of their migration to Windows 2000, particularly around the concept of IT infrastructure, whether it’s the directory or management tools. One of our explicit goals for Windows .NET Server is to make the step from Windows 2000 to Windows .NET Server much more evolutionary.

Customers have told us that they love the directory, but they want better cross-forest support. They love Group Policy, but they want a Group Policy tool that shows inheritance. As a result of those discussions with customers, we haven’t re-architected the directory or rewritten the group policy tool. Rather, we’ve evolved those capabilities to provide better support for cross-forest, to provide the same group policy tool but with additional views to show inheritance, and how a policy could take effect, and to provide an event log.

Evolution, not re-architecting. Customers can continue to deploy Windows 2000 Server until Windows .NET Server is available, and then very naturally evolve Windows .NET Server into their environments so they can take advantage of improvements in the new servers, while also setting themselves up with the next-generation Web services and application server platform.

With Windows 2000, our goal was to make it the ultimate enterprise operating system for traditional enterprise applications — even better than UNIX. With Windows .NET Server, our goal now is to make it the ultimate platform for Web services.

PressPass: Clearly, Windows servers are making great strides in terms of enterprise and mission-critical readiness, but customers historically have been concerned about Windows interoperability with UNIX. Do you have a strategy to address that issue?

Veghte : Absolutely. This year, Windows was the fastest growing server operating system on the planet — whether you measure that growth by unit or revenue — and we’re continuing to see many partners attracted to the ecosystem we’re providing. Naturally, we want to provide a clear and easy migration strategy for UNIX customers.

We didn’t take a rip-and-replace approach, however; we listened to our customers. We know many customers have existing UNIX systems that may be at the end of their life cycles. We want to provide a roadmap so that customers can migrate at their own pace, or continue to run Windows and UNIX together until it’s the right time for them to integrate new Windows technologies. It’s ironic that UNIX vendors aren’t doing the same thing with Windows.

Today, we’re announcing two additional components of our dual strategy of UNIX migration and interoperability: a new partnership agreement with Rogue Wave Software, Inc.; and the release to manufacturing of our Services for UNIX (SFU) 3.0.

Our collaboration with Rogue Wave provides important performance benefits to customers who use Rogue Wave SourcePro C++ products on the Windows platform. Essentially, it allows them to expand their use of Rogue Wave SourcePro C++ beyond applications development to include the deployment of large-scale enterprise applications.

SFU 3.0 gives customers more options. It allows them to optimize their previous investments in UNIX infrastructure, applications and people, while capitalizing on the lower costs and richness of the Windows platform — delivering lower TCO and greater business agility.

We’ve heard time and time again from customers that integration and the evolution of interoperability in moving from UNIX to Windows are core issues. It was only natural for us to make this a focus of our strategy as we continue to push into the highest scale of corporate data centers, because it helps us achieve our goal of being the best-connected enterprise server operating system.

PressPass: As you’ve pointed out, TCO and return on investment (ROI) seem to be primary concerns for enterprise customers in today’s economy.

How does Windows 2000 help them address those issues?

Veghte : Windows enables enterprises to follow the first rule of budgeting to save money: Do more with less. Tough economic conditions mean lower TCO, and people are attracted to the value proposition of Windows.

One of the cornerstones of the Windows platform is to bring PC economics and a vibrant ecosystem to all aspects of enterprise server computing. In a world of tight economic conditions and shrinking IT budgets, we are seeing more and more customers taking advantage of that.

Two separate TCO studies came out recently, one from the Aberdeen Group and the other from the META Group. Both showed Windows 2000 delivering cost savings of 40 percent to 50 percent over UNIX. The Aberdeen study also cited the outstanding value of Windows 2000, specifically calling out its reliability, performance, scalability, ease-of-use and the relatively small number of skilled resources necessary to maintain the operating environment.

PressPass: How does Microsoft’s increased focus on storage fit into the Windows Platform strategy?

Veghte : Very naturally. Windows has been the leader in file servers, and more recently Microsoft Windows-powered NAS solutions with hardware makers such as Dell, MacStore, IBM and Compaq have led in Network Attached Storage solutions in the US$2,000-$20,000 segment. And we have SQL storing data at the highest scale. It is only natural that we will continue to work with hardware makers to deliver innovative storage solutions for businesses.

PressPass: Recently, security has become an even bigger issue for enterprise customers. How does T
rustworthy Computing fit into the work you and your team are doing on Windows servers?

Veghte : The Windows .NET Server team is actively pursuing security as a core design objective, just as other Microsoft teams are doing, because the goal at Microsoft is to continue to raise the bar on availability and reliability for our customers.

In February, we kicked off a program that requires every Windows developer to go through comprehensive security training. More than 9,000 Windows developers have taken the training to date.

We also started an intense review of the Windows source code to put the training into action and derive every possible benefit from it. We organized teams to review all the code, and we modeled threats, trying to imagine all the different ways someone could try to break Windows. Every source file, every binary, had an owner who had to sign off on having reviewed code against these threat models.

Security has always been a priority for Windows, of course, but any security vulnerability is one too many. Providing the Windows development team with in-depth, ongoing security training amplifies our efforts to ensure better quality engineering and development processes and to deliver the most secure products available.

Microsoft has decided to ship several services in Windows .NET Server either disabled or locked down, which means they will be secure by default and it will be up to users to decide when to switch them on. As a result, Windows .NET Server will be extraordinarily robust and secure.

PressPass: Tell us a little more about the Windows Group at Microsoft and your job as leader.
Are you having fun?

Veghte : Every day is paradise ( laughing ). Actually, I’m having a lot of fun. It’s an exciting challenge to enable a platform that is fundamental to the way that businesses, people and technology connect. That’s really what we’re trying to do. For us to do that, it’s absolutely essential that we enable a platform for the development, deployment and operation of applications and Web services that scale without limit and federate seamlessly.

This is a great time for us. Our trajectory in terms of credibility, and the technology and value that we are bringing to enterprise customers are awesome.

We have a great team, we have a great trajectory, and we have very smart customers who demand excellence and constantly push us to innovate. We’re well positioned with great opportunity in a very competitive business.

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