Microsoft and the Branch Office

ORLANDO, Fla. — June 7, 2005 — While many organizations do not think of their branch offices as separate locations with unique IT needs, these offices require extra resources and management to achieve network and application performance equivalent to headquarters facilities. Often they do not have locally based IT staff, as well. In recognition of these issues, Microsoft continues to develop innovative technologies for branch offices.

  • Windows Server 2003 SP1 provides branch-oriented capabilities, such as the ability to failover to a hub server if a branch-office server experiences an issue.  Once the branch-office server is brought back online, the branch client is then reconnected back to the local branch server.

  • Windows Server 2003 R2, scheduled for release by the end of this year, includes Distributed File System (DFS), which provides high availability and centralized management of branch office data through highly efficient replication of files between a branch and central office. Windows Server 2003 R2 will also offer centralized management of print, efficient collaboration, and remote server hardware management capabilities.

  • Near the end of 2005, Microsoft plans to release a set of updates for Internet Security & Acceleration (ISA) Server 2004, which will allow customers to further enhance branch office security, connectivity and communication by expediting software updates, accelerating web access performance and providing the ability to cache software updates with Microsoft Update, thereby decreasing network bandwidth costs. 

Other Microsoft products, such as Systems Management Server 2003 and Microsoft Operations Manager 2005, provide capabilities for branches, as well.

Microsoft is also working with partners to provide more cost-effective and operationally efficient solutions for branch offices.

  • For branches that need dedicated file and print servers that are easy to deploy and manage, Microsoft currently offers Windows Storage Server 2003 via leading OEM partners. In addition, Microsoft partner Tacit Networks offers a Wide Area File System (WAFS) branch solution built on Windows Storage Server.

  • Microsoft is working with partners such as HP and IBM to provide appliances — blade-type hardware that will deliver cost-effective, simplified file, Web cache and storage capabilities on HP ProLiant servers and IBM xSeries/BladeCenter.

  • For larger branches, Microsoft will work with system integrators and solution providers such as Avanade Inc., EDS, Getronics and HP to deliver branch solutions and services. Microsoft recently released its Branch Office Infrastructure Solution (BOIS). BOIS is a set of prescriptive architectural guidance that helps firms design, deploy and maintain Windows Server-based technologies in their remote office infrastructure.

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