SAN DIEGO, May 25, 2004 — Information Technology administrators and the companies that employ them share the same mantra when it comes to optimizing their IT infrastructures: “Do more with less.” They want to streamline the development of their IT solutions, unscramble the puzzle of connecting heterogeneous systems, ease the burden and costs associated with managing their systems, and enable their business’ information workers to be more productive. In short, they want a way to contend with the explosion of complexity across the entire IT lifecycle.
To make it easier for customers to simplify their environment, Microsoft announced at the annual TechEd conference today the Windows Server System Common Engineering Roadmap, the company’s long-term strategy for Windows Server System that focuses on engineering out complexity through integration across server components. The company also announced the initial step on the roadmap, the Windows Server System Common Engineering Criteria for 2005 to help ensure customers will have a consistent and predictable experience across their investments in the Windows Server System. In addition, new enhancements to the server products that are part of Windows Server System were announced, including Microsoft Exchange Server, SQL Server and Storage Server.
To get a better sense of how today’s announcements will help customers simplify their IT environments, PressPass conducted a roundtable discussion with senior Microsoft executives representing some of the Windows Server System product teams. These include Andy Lees , corporate vice president, Windows Server and Tools Marketing; Paul Flessner , senior vice president, Server Platform division; Yuval Neeman , corporate vice president, Storage and Platform Solutions; and Dave Thompson , corporate vice president, Exchange Server product group.
PressPass: Can you provide some background on Windows Server System? Is it a specific product or group of products?
Lees: Windows Server System is the name of Microsoft’s server infrastructure, which provides end-to-end server solutions with Windows Server as the foundation. Windows Server System is an integrated server infrastructure designed to help IT professionals deliver new capabilities and support, while simplifying and optimizing their IT infrastructure so they can do more with less.
Windows Server System encompasses all server products from Microsoft, including BizTalk Server, Systems Management Server, SQL Server, Exchange Server and Storage Server. These products are designed to interoperate so that businesses can reduce the cost of operations and deliver a highly reliable and secure IT infrastructure that can accommodate future growth. In essence, the Microsoft Windows Server System is focused on helping businesses of all sizes — from a Web storefront to a complex, global enterprise — do more with less.
PressPass: What’s the thinking behind the Common Engineering Roadmap for Windows Server System?
Lees: Customers continue to tell us that IT is too costly and complex, and that they spend too much time integrating products that were not designed to work together and not enough time delivering value to the business. They often use human resources and services as a front line of defense in managing this complexity, which further escalates the cost of their investments. We want to help them reduce this complexity through Windows Server System.
The Window Server System Common Engineering Roadmap announced today outlines our long-term strategy for delivering common services across the Windows Server System. The Windows Server System Common Engineering Criteria for 2005, also announced today, is the initial step on that path. It is a set of capabilities and standards that will be represented within all server products going forward, ensuring that customers have a consistent and predictable experience across all of Windows Server System.
Windows Server System demonstrates Microsoft’s commitment to “integrated innovation,” which is the company’s description for our unique approach to building software. By innovating at the product design and development levels and then integrating the software, Microsoft delivers products that are easier to manage, simpler to use and deploy, and provide greater overall value and lower operational costs. This approach enables IT administrators who work with Windows Server System products to focus less on making things work together and training users, and more on adding strategic value to their business.
Some examples of the Common Engineering Criteria include our commitment to provide MOM Management Pack support for every server product — available at the time the product is released. This will enable customers to use the rich management functionality of MOM 2005 to remotely manage their server infrastructure and to do it from the first day of installation forward.
Additionally, as part of the Common Engineering Criteria for 2005, every server will support the latest versions of Windows Installer and Windows Update. This support will provide transactional update capabilities across Windows Server System, so customers can easily roll back any update installations.
PressPass: How is the Common Engineering Criteria for Windows Server System changing the development of Microsoft’s different server products?
Thompson: What’s exciting about the Windows Server System Common Engineering Criteria for 2005 is that it deepens the level of integration already in place among Microsoft’s server teams. On the Exchange Server team, for example, we’ve worked very closely with the Windows Server team for several years on the design and implementation of the Active Directory service, which provides integrated management of security and e-mail services. Implementation of the Common Engineering Criteria across Windows Server System will further increase the level of integration evident in our products by providing a more structured way for engineers to collaborate together across the teams. The result will be broader understanding of how customers use our products separately and together, and more collaboration on design information, best practices and technologies as we develop new Windows Server System products.
Flessner: A goal of the Window Server System Common Engineering Roadmap is to solve the complexity of integration through software, rather than services. This is a significant undertaking but it saves customers time and money by addressing these issues before they ever implement the software, and it ultimately provides them with seamless integration, increased value and ease of use.
PressPass: How do the other announcements from the Windows Server System product teams at TechEd this week provide more value to customers?
Thompson: The Exchange Server team is making several announcements this week that underscore Microsoft’s commitment to providing solutions that reduce IT complexity and cost and enable customers to focus on increasing productivity and meeting business requirements.
First, we’re announcing the immediate availability of Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1), which includes enhancements that can increase the security and reliability of the messaging infrastructure while making it easier to increase information-worker productivity. SP1 includes improved virus-scanning APIs, and will help customers upgrading from Exchange Server 5.5 consolidate remote sites into regional or central data centers, thus helping to reduce operations, hardware and site costs. And SP1 makes it easier to deploy one of the best features of Exchange Server 2003, RPC over HTTP, which makes it easier for Outlook users to stay productive when away from the office by enabling Outlook users to connect to Exchange across the Internet without requiring a virtual private network.
We’re also announcing the availability of the Microsoft Intelligent Message Filter (IMF) to all Exchange Server 2003 customers. The IMF was developed with SmartScreen technology from Microsoft Research. It provides a junk e-mail filter that has learned the distinguishing characteristics of legitimate e-mail messages versus the characteristics of spam.
When we announced IMF in November 2003, our intention was to provide it for customers who purchased Exchange Server 2003 with Software Assurance. However, because of the increased pain that spam is causing our customers, we recently decided to expand the availability of the first version of IMF to all Exchange 2003 customers and eliminate the Software Assurance requirement. Aside from spam’s pure annoyance, it consumes valuable IT professional and information worker resources and poses a potential security risk when used as a virus transport. In fact, industry analysts report that spam is the No. 1 concern among enterprise e-mail managers in 2004, as it constitutes upwards of 70 percent of all inbound e-mail traffic. Our Exchange 2003 Software Assurance customers will continue to have access to IMF technology. They will receive a custom installation kit that includes a CD and customer guide to provide easy access to the software and aid deployment.
Neeman: Windows Storage Server 2003 and Exchange Server customers have been very clear about wanting to be able to consolidate Exchange data stores on their Windows-based Networked Attached Storage (NAS) devices so that they can increase operational efficiency and lower their TCO through server consolidation. In response, Microsoft this week is announcing the general availability of the Windows Storage Server feature pack. With support by partners such as Dell, EMC, HP, CommVault Systems, Computer Associates International, Dantz Development Corp., LEGATO Software, NSI Software and VERITAS Software, the feature pack will help small-to-medium-size businesses, and branch office customers consolidate their storage by as much as 50 percent.
Windows Storage Server 2003, with support for Exchange Server, is yet another example of how Microsoft is helping customers do more with less. With this feature pack, Windows Storage Server and Exchange Server are taking advantage of the inherent manageability of the Windows platform to seamlessly integrate with each other.
Flessner: The SQL Server team this week is announcing the Best Practices Analyzer Tool for Microsoft SQL Server 2000, a tool that analyzes SQL Server 2000 systems and provides feedback on their configuration and operation. As one of the elements of the Common Engineering Criteria, Best Practices Analyzer is another example of the Windows Server System vision to provide greater manageability and productivity without adding cost to current SQL Server 2000 solutions.
Best Practices Analyzer was developed in direct response to customers who wanted a tool that would enable them to better maintain and manage their SQL Server 2000 systems. It compiles best practices and recommendations from the development team and SQL Server 2000 customers to help database administrators investigate broader areas on their SQL Server system and ensure they’re performing at an optimum level. The tool scans the system based on the selected best practices and provides a consolidated report with alerts and descriptions of the areas that are not in compliance. Another benefit of Best Practices Analyzer is that it includes a series of system checks to help businesses prepare for SQL Server 2005.
In addition, this week we’re also announcing native data encryption support in SQL Server 2005. This support provides a greater level of security to customers by helping businesses satisfy new database security regulations, including the California Database Protection Act. Native data encryption support ensures customers will be able to continue to rely on SQL Server to provide enterprise-level security and reliability. We also are announcing that SQL Server 2005 is going to be placed into the Common Criteria certification process. By achieving the Common Criteria certification, customers are assured that SQL Server meets the globally-accepted standards for evaluating the security of IT products and systems.
PressPass: How are customers and Microsoft’s industry partners responding to the company’s efforts to reduce IT complexity through integration among Windows Server System products?
Lees: Our customers, of course, are responding well to this theme because they clearly communicated to us in the first place that a more manageable and better integrated server infrastructure is a top priority for them. Unifying Microsoft’s server products under Windows Server System helps clarify Microsoft’s server strategy to our customers. Companies like Siemens, Reuters, K2 and Motorola already are realizing the benefits of Windows Server System and are enthusiastic about the future innovations and improvements we will be delivering across the entire system.
In addition to their support, more than 600,000 industry partners worldwide believe in our integrated approach to product development and provide a broad set of packaged software and services that can extend the value of Windows Server System product investments for our customers.
Thompson: Simply put, our customers and partners tell us that the more integration we provide between the servers, the better. Organizations want a common security and management model for all of their systems and information resources. Windows Server System provides a rich, flexible, common management environment for streamlining IT operations, especially around monitoring and diagnosing problems, and a more standardized approach to securing the entire infrastructure. The net result of this integration is increased productivity for both the IT staff and the information worker end user. For example, Exchange Server customers tell us that implementing the Active Directory service of Windows Server enables them to streamline day-to-day tasks such as provisioning a new employee with authentication credentials and an e-mail inbox. What many customers find surprising, however, is that implementing Active Directory and Exchange Server then makes it much easier to deploy and manage new services to information workers that can drive up overall organization productivity, services such as Windows SharePoint Services, and Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server.
We’re also seeing a healthy ecosystem of Exchange Server partners building anti-spam and anti-virus solutions for use with Exchange Server 2003. Exchange 2003 included important new capabilities that enabled partners to build these solutions, such as a virus-scanning API and access to messaging properties used to determine whether how likely it is that an e-mail message is spam. IMF is a great story for partners and customers here, as it’s designed for use alongside partner solutions, and customers will benefit from having multiple tools for fighting the spam problem.
Neeman: Many of our customers have told us they chose Windows Storage Server 2003 over competing solutions because of its rich storage features like Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS), Virtual Disk Service (VDS) and its seamless integration with Windows Server System products like Exchange Server. For example, the Hill School, a college-preparatory school in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, uses Windows Storage Server 2003 to manage its mission-critical e-mail application, which facilitates better educational practices through higher interaction between faculty and students. Storage Server surpassed the Hill School’s reliability stress test, handling 1,000 e-mail boxes with over 100,000 e-mail messages in a 10-minute period. This is just one of many examples in which customers are able to do more with less through the integration of Windows Server System products.
Flessner: Today’s SQL Server announcements again match what we’ve been hearing that our customers and partners want from us. To ensure configuration and operational best practices for SQL Server systems, customers wanted a tool similar to the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer, a streamlined method for identifying common security misconfigurations. So we’ve delivered the Best Practices Analyzer and have received a very positive response, with more than 40,000 customer downloads so far. They’ve also requested native data encryption support in SQL Server in addition to the encryption support currently available from partners, which we’re delivering in SQL Server 2005.
Borgata, Dakis Inc. and TSYS are three examples of customers that have chosen SQL Server over competitors because of this commitment to listen to and respond to customer feedback. Borgata migrated to SQL Server on the basis of increased performance, scalability, manageability, as well as significant cost savings. Dakis migrated to SQL Server due to its tight integration with other Microsoft products and its proven track record when it comes to performance, security, lower total cost of ownership and overall reliability. And TSYS chose SQL Server because Microsoft has a better track record in providing dependable and useful tools. TSYS has also been a quick adopter of the Best Practices Analyzer, which has helped significantly in raising the level of reliability for the company’s infrastructure.
PressPass: What developments can we expect to see with Windows Server System in the future?
Thompson: The Exchange Server team is working on the next generation of e-mail technology for customers, and in the next year we’ll be delivering innovative, and integrated, new solutions. We’ve set the stage this week with the release of IMF and SP1, and 2005 will bring the release of Exchange Edge Services, a major milestone in e-mail protection, security and hygiene. Customer needs for their messaging infrastructure have changed significantly over the last several years, due in large part to the rapidly shifting security environment. Exchange Edge Services will enhance customers’ ability to protect their e-mail systems from junk e-mail and viruses as well as improve the efficiency of handling and routing Internet e-mail traffic. And as we look beyond Edge Services, we’re already planning to incorporate key new technologies and services, such as broader incorporation of Web services and support for 64-bit technology. To avoid confusion as we release this new technology, we are not carrying the “Kodiak” code name forward, as it had been used to refer to a single release of the product. Together with our industry partners, we’re dedicated to providing the most secure, reliable and productive e-mail infrastructure, one that will enable organizations to continue doing more with less.
Neeman: The Storage and Platform Solutions team recognizes that the high demand for innovation around storage solutions won’t stop anytime soon. As the data continues to grow at an explosive rate, customers are looking for solutions to reduce the cost of management in branch offices, while increasing the interoperability and security of their storage systems.
Flessner: SQL Server’s ongoing vision is to provide enterprises with a comprehensive, integrated data platform that addresses all of their needs related to the management and analysis of data across their organization. A key part of our data-platform vision is delivering on innovations in IT productivity as well as security, reliability, scalability and availability.
Based on this vision, the SQL Server team’s current focus is on delivering the next release of SQL Server — SQL Server 2005 — targeted for the first half of 2005. This release is a comprehensive data platform and will focus heavily on enhancing the “abilities” — or scalability, availability, manageability, security, etcetera — as well as developer tools and productivity and business intelligence. Our next milestone is the delivery of Beta 2, scheduled to be available in the coming weeks. Then, to ensure that SQL Server 2005 is a quality release for customers, the SQL Server team has added a third beta cycle to the schedule, which will release later this year. This cycle will allow our TAP customers and Microsoft to put SQL Server 2005 into production before the product’s release to manufacturing.
This release is really about enabling our customers to get more value from their data by including embedded functionality such as reporting, analysis and data mining — all available out of the box in a tightly integrated way. And with the positive early feedback from beta customers and partners, we are very confident that we’re moving in the right direction.
Lees: The Common Engineering Criteria announcement is the initial step, albeit a major one, on the Windows Server System Common Engineering Roadmap. In the coming months we will publish a detailed white paper on the Common Engineering Criteria and outline more of the Windows Server System Common Engineering Roadmap.