REDMOND, Wash., Nov. 19, 2002 — They are companies of all stripes — holding companies, car rental agencies, network solutions providers and more. All are customers participating in Microsoft’s Joint Developer Program (JDP), and they are sharing their experiences deploying Microsoft Windows .NET Server 2003.
Companies across the globe have turned out in unprecedented numbers requesting to evaluate and test Release Candidate 1 of the new Microsoft Windows .NET Server 2003. According to Bill Veghte, corporate vice president of the Windows Server Group at Microsoft, demand through Microsoft’s Customer Preview Program (CPP) for a peek at Windows .NET Server 2003 exceeds 350,000. That ranks at the top for customer previews of any product in the company’s history.
In addition to companies looking to test and evaluate with Windows .NET Server 2003, Veghte says there have also been more than 75,000 partner kits distributed to companies wanting to ensure that their products exploit the capabilities of the platform.
“Simply put, we’re seeing a lot of excitement for this release from all corners of the IT world, and our JDP participants have been very pleased.”
“The demand for this product through the Customer Preview Program, and within our partner community is unprecedented, showing a level of anticipation beyond what we expected,”
Fast and Dependable Infrastructure
Performance and scalability improvements make Windows .NET Server 2003 a solid choice for customers migrating from Windows NT Server 4.0, Veghte says. In fact, in internal Microsoft tests, Windows .NET Server 2003 showed dramatic performance gains over previous versions of Windows server operating systems.
“We’re seeing a 2x performance gain across all eight of the primary server roles we’ve been measuring,”
“We put in some hardcore engineering efforts to assure that customers would see and experience a dramatic increase in power from upgrading to Windows .NET Server 2003. Customers running Windows 2000-class hardware today should, without changing any hardware, see these kinds of performance gains. The performance increase relative to Windows NT 4.0 should be even more dramatic. That’s a very attractive prospect for any customer.”
Veghte says part of the product’s ability to increase performance and reliability comes from native integration of the .NET Framework and its performance-enhancing features such as kernel-mode caching, which provides substantial performance gains in Web-serving scenarios. In addition, Windows .NET Server 2003 enables larger server clusters, which has helped companies like Enterprise Rent-a-Car to create large groups of cooperative servers that provide backup and also act as primary servers for smaller franchises.
In addition, security has been built into the system from the core, which speeds implementation time and gives companies more options as they look to capitalize on advancements such as wireless connectivity. Customers are seeing predictable high levels of service with Windows .NET Server 2003, which is consistent with its secure-by-design, secure-by-default objectives.
“Before Windows .NET Server 2003, a customer looking to get the productivity advantage form a wireless solution would also have to deploy a public key infrastructure, or PKI,”
“With this product, the customer has the option of deploying with a PKI or using the Windows security infrastructure that’s built in. This is just one example of how the product helps customers achieve their potential by making new opportunities such as wireless very approachable without having to implement huge infrastructure changes.”
Infrastructure Aligned with Business Goals
According to Nigel Stevens, vice president of information systems and technology alliances for Reed Elsevier, a worldwide publisher and information provider, the flexibility afforded by deep integration within Windows .NET Server 2003 also makes it easier to implement and maintain in general.
“For one thing, there is a lot more flexibility with regard to the Windows .NET Server 2003 Active Directory structure,”
“It’s a very mature directory services product.”
According to Veghte, directory services were indeed an area of improvement for the product. This allows companies to tap into all parts of the network and deliver information and access to different systems in a unified way, says Veghte, who also touts the product’s enhanced ability to manage the domain structure, a claim Stevens validates.
“We’ve really given IT directors a boost with this release by enabling them to build bigger, more connected systems,”
“Windows .NET Server 2003 also gives customers the ability to have multiple directories, and to bring in other kinds of directories and integrate those so they work seamlessly from the Active Directory based system. That kind of deployment flexibility with solid integration and interoperability across directories is only found in Windows.”
At Reed Elsevier, says Stevens,
“One of the most compelling reasons to move to Windows .NET Server 2003 for us was the domain name service, or DNS. The new DNS in Windows .NET Server 2003 lets us do things like stealth zones and conditional forwarding. Now that we have a Windows product that can do these things, we’ve been able to move the DNS functionality to a Windows server. So our Windows administrators are now DNS administrators.”
According to Stevens, organizational tweaks such as this add up to a more streamlined information architecture with Windows .NET Server 2003. When combined with the performance and reliability enhancements the system provides, the result is a more efficient and better functioning network. Stevens says he expects his own network to increase in efficiency to the point that Reed Elsevier will reduce its overall IT costs by 15 percent.
“We expect to eliminate 500-700 servers when it’s all said and done.”
Says Microsoft’s Veghte,
“This product was developed with the customer’s primary concerns in mind. From customer feedback, we feel that we have hit the target on developing a product that improves performance, increases productivity and provides the end-user with a seamless experience.”
Efficient and Effective Infrastructure
While these benefits might make the IT department jump for joy, for the most part end users are more interested in overall system reliability and performance itself. In fact, according to Len Couture, CIO of Enterasys Networks, even performance isn’t as important to end users as what the network can do to help them in their daily work.
“To co-opt a line from politics, ‘it’s the information, stupid.’ To really enable your enterprise, you need to achieve that one degree of separation between your users and the information they need to do their jobs.”
With that goal in mind, Couture’s project at Enterasys went beyond a simple implementation of Windows .NET Server 2003. Says Couture,
“I was looking for the ability to take my line of business in a new direction, where we’re not focusing on applications, but on information. We want to provide our users with a better experience by making the network and information stores adaptable to their business needs.”
According to Couture, his company’s new network was built with an eye toward not only giving people access to information wherever they are, but also on integrating older information repositories and databases that had been less convenient for users to get at.
“We can now utilize the information in our legacy data stores,”
“We’ve made it so the network-based information looks like one view to internal users, no matter which system they are using to get that information. It’s easier to use and access and users are able to get exactly the information they need.”
In a world where information is king, says Couture, increased network performance lies less on the brute strength of hardware processing power, and more on elegance and finesse in getting the right information to users when and where they need it. Couture’s approach makes sense to many, and he believes that the infrastructure his team has created with Windows .NET Server 2003 will give employees at Enterasys an edge when it comes to accessing the company’s vital information.
“As a CIO, I will tell you that I have the best network in the world,”
“But I will also say that it is a bright new world for information sharing, and signing up for the right architecture and deploying correctly in the 2003 world is going to have a phenomenal effect on ability of people in any organization to connect to the information they need.”