December 07, 2003
LAS VEGAS, Nev., December 8, 2003 — Today at the 22nd annual Gartner Datacenter Conference, Bill Veghte, corporate vice president of Microsofts Windows Server Group, discussed in a keynote address the future of Windows Server and the investment Microsoft is making in its Dynamic Systems Initiative to help customers reduce the complexity of their IT infrastructure. PressPass spoke with Veghte to learn more about some of the top IT issues Microsoft customers are facing today, and the long term commitment Microsoft has made to address them.
PressPass: What are the challenges organizations see in their data centers today?
Veghte: Three years ago, when Microsoft launched Windows 2000 Server, it was a very different economic environment. We were near the end of the dot com boom and companies were still spending IPO money freely. Today, the pendulum has swung, and cutting costs is a top priority.
IT professionals must manage two opposing forces every day: the need to do more – to build new solutions and handle larger workloads – and the need to do it with less cost, time and pain. We know that the growth of IT budgets are not keeping pace with demand for new applications and increasing operational costs.
Our Dynamic Systems Initiative efforts are focused on helping customers bring these two opposing forces in line. They need to roll out new applications while bringing down operational costs, and to do this, they need to think about taking costs out of the process across the entire lifecycle of the application. Through DSI, we are providing customers with solutions that can dramatically simplify and automate how they build, deploy and operate much more secure and reliable applications in their environment.
PressPass: IT administrators are being asked to increase efficiency and manage a diverse set of distributed systems while their budgets continue to erode how are businesses coping with these demands?
Veghte: IT budgets fall into two areas: what you spend to manage and support existing infrastructure, and whats left over that you can spend on new projects that move your business forward. Customers tell us that in an ideal world, they would like to be spending about 55 percent on maintaining their existing infrastructure, with 45 percent of their budgets directed towards new projects. But research and direct feedback from our customers tells us that today they are spending as much as 70 to 80 percent of their IT budgets to maintain existing systems. That doesnt leave them a lot left over to fund new projects. The driver behind this is the manual nature of IT operations today. Anywhere from 60 to 70 percent of tasks in the data center today are either completely manual or a combination of manual and homegrown script-driven. To reduce costs and yet still have resources to build new solutions, we need to provide applications that are created with an awareness of the data center requirements, a platform to automate how these applications are deployed and operated and management solutions that enable business policies to drive necessary changes in the underlying IT infrastructure with less human interaction.
PressPass: How is Microsoft addressing the need for increased efficiency on the maintenance side?
Veghte: Really, customer pain falls into four main buckets: security, availability, migration and consolidation, and management. On security we hear, Help, Im drowning in patches. Our customers also want help designing high-availability systems with low total cost of ownership (TCO). And they need help moving to the most up-to-date platform while reducing the number of servers they have to administer. Businesses are looking to move beyond NT4 and the one app, one server model. Finally, customers ask us, Help me design and operate more manageable applications.
PressPass: What is Microsofts vision for addressing these challenges?
Veghte: Were investing billions of dollars in research and development to make IT professionals successful by providing an integrated platform that works well across the Windows Server System family, connects with heterogeneous environments and has a structure that easily accommodates next-generation products. We call this approach integrated innovation. Integrated innovation is the process by which we look broadly and holistically across out customers needs and deliver innovative solutions that work together.
The investments we are making as a part of the Dynamic Systems Initiative are a great example of how integrated innovation across our development tools and the entire Windows Server System will help address challenges that both operations and development face across the lifecycle of an application. By embedding knowledge of the system at design time and flowing that knowledge through the entire lifecycle of the system, were able to create solutions that result in reduced costs, improved reliability and increased responsiveness across the entire IT Infrastructure. This is important: were improving the management experience from design time to deployment to operations. How do you capture operational requirements? How do you provide requirements to development? How do you deploy distributed applications? How do you automate and centrally manage? Different questions, but the answer is the same: by choosing DSI solutions. Our approach with DSI has been to combine a strong, long-term vision for how these pieces all come together, with a solid set of near term deliverables that enable customers to start addressing these problems in their environment today.
PressPass: Can you provide an example of how DSI will impact the product design cycle?
Veghte: Sure. I can draw an analogy to the Design for Manufacturability movement. In the past, products were designed that could not be practically or efficiently produced or manufactured. The ease with which a product could be manufactured ultimately became the focus of the entire manufacturing industry.
In early product development cycles, only 8 percent of the total product budget was being spent by the time a product was designed. But those design decisions locked in 80 percent of the final cost of the product. The manufacturing industry learned from this and began to have production workers sit with the product design teams as they made design choices to ensure that manufacturing concerns were factored in. Companies developed a set of common methodologies, guidelines, and tools to aid this process.
We need to bring the same level of coordination between manufacturing in the IT industry, or operations, and the design teams, or application developers.
PressPass: How are you applying this concept to Microsoft products?
Veghte: The software industry today is in a similar position to that of the manufacturing industry before Design for Manufacturability. With DSI, Microsoft is moving to a Design for Operations model. Weve learned that dollars spent up front coordinating between the design team and the manufacturing team will end up saving businesses an incredible amount over the lifetime of a product. Were really enabling that concept through DSI, dramatically simplifying and automating development, deployment and operation of distributed computing systems. The initiative covers the operating system, server applications and tools and management products. DSI is a clear signal that, with Windows Server System, Microsoft is making a long-term commitment to reducing complexity across the IT life cycle and to enabling IT professionals to deliver greater value to their businesses.
PressPass: What are the deliverables of DSI?
Veghte: Microsoft Windows Server 2003 marked the beginning of a comprehensive DSI product roadmap, providing a foundation on which customers are beginning to build dynamic systems. Taking advantage of that solid foundation, Visual Studio .NET 2003 and the Windows Server System management products, Systems Management Server 2003 and Microsoft Operations Manager 2004, are three great examples of current and near-term products that Microsoft is delivering to start filling out the DSI roadmap.
Automated Deployment Services for Windows Server 2003 is another good example. This new server provisioning and administration tool allows rapid deployment of both Windows 2000 Server and Windows Server 2003 and incorporates a wide range of technologies that demonstrate how DSI enhances various aspects of the IT infrastructure lifecycle.
In addition, Microsoft has developed tools, guidance and technology to address each of the five areas of customer pain that I mentioned earlier. For example, technology such as Services for UNIX 3.0 (SFU 3.0) provides interoperability and migration tools and guidelines for customers looking for guidance on operating their heterogeneous environment.
We’ll continue to evolve Windows Server with innovations such as Software Update Services 2.0, an upcoming release which will provide a seamless patch, scanning and install experience for Windows, SQL, Office, Exchange and Visio. Virtual Server 2004 is a product coming out next year that will help customers with their migration and consolidation efforts. On the development side, we’ll formally launch the next version of Visual Studio, code-named Whidbey, and .NET Framework Whidbey in 2004.
On the management side, well release Microsoft Operations Manager 2004 and Microsoft System Center, our solution for providing customers with complete application and system management for enterprises of all sizes.
PressPass: What lies ahead on the DSI roadmap?
Veghte: We are entering a very exciting time. ISVs can begin to deliver some of the Design for Operations benefits to their customers on the Windows platform today by developing what we call management packs for Microsoft Operations Manager. By writing a management pack, ISVs can encode the knowledge that they have about how their application behaves in a way that makes it much easier to manage. Going forward we are building some of that same capability into our Visual Studio development tools product line. Architects and developers will be able to develop operationally-aware applications, leveraging an underlying technology we call the System Definition Model (SDM).
SDM is a model that is used to create definitions of a set of related software and/or hardware resources working together to accomplish a common function. Using the SDM, businesses can create a live blueprint of an entire system. This blueprint can be created and manipulated with various software tools and is used to define system elements and capture data pertinent to development, deployment and operations making it relevant across the entire IT life cycle.
Longer term, we are making investments not only in development tools, but across the board in support of the SDM. In the operating system, we will be able to automate how customers deploy distributed applications and their underlying resources based on the SDM description. SDM aware applications will be easier to deploy, monitor and update. The management tools that leverage the SDM infrastructure and SDM aware applications will be able to provide power new system level management capabilities in a highly automated way.
We really are taking a different approach with DSI. Instead of a band-aid solution that only goes a foot below the surface, we are addressing the inefficiencies and complexities inherent in todays data centers by re-architecting from the ground up, while providing customers a way to also tie into and incorporate their existing investments. If the operationally aware platform does not extend that intelligence into the application layer then you are only postponing future roadblocks.
PressPass: What do you hope your audience today at the Gartner Datacenter Conference takes away from your presentation?
Veghte: I want people to understand that weve matured as a server business. Aligning our server products under a single system Windows Server System — is part of that, and the Dynamic Systems Initiative is another important step forward. In addition to becoming better from a technology perspective, we recognize the importance of working closely with our enterprise customers on such issues as prescriptive guidance, architectural guidance, service offerings and having a broad partner ecosystem around our platform.
Microsoft is focused on delivering a platform that supports a strategic set of scenarios right out of the box. Our server software is extremely easy to use and is best in class in terms of interoperability. Were making sure that we have an outstanding development model so that we leverage the best of the commercial development model that we have and learn from the open source, or community development, model. Were extremely customer driven in the way that we engineer our development. And finally, through a strong network of partners we will continue to deliver value and ensure our customers have a wide variety of options to extend and enhance Microsoft products and platforms. You can work with any one of the tens of thousands of our partners to make the Windows platform as flexible as you need it to be in your data center.