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Commentary: .Net Server's promise

Despite some possible early hiccups, Microsoft's .Net Server 2003, due in the next several months, should be fully ready for companies to use.

Commentary: .Net Server's promise
By Forrester Research
Special to CNET News.com
October 10, 2002, 6:00AM PT

By Joshua Walker, Research Director

Whether Microsoft's .Net Server 2003, due in the next several months, is late to market or whether what's shipped is ready for mass deployment isn't really that interesting.

Microsoft is working on more important developments higher up the technology stack--for example, its recently announced new application server, content management and commerce server functionality. These are the areas in which companies will see value above the bits and bytes of the operating system.

When Microsoft does ship .Net Server 2003, we can expect the usual early hiccups around security and performance--things that Redmond may not have fully ironed out. But the product will be ready for companies to use. Forrester has tested the company's Advanced Server 2000 with the .Net Framework, and its functionality is equivalent to that of many of the Java application servers sold by IBM and BEA Systems in areas like caching and resource pooling.

Why is this important? Microsoft shops and Visual Basic developers can begin to use Microsoft's .Net technology today with its Advanced Server 2000. They don?t have to wait until Microsoft?s .Net Server 2003 ships. Companies with core applications based on the Component Object Model (COM) should migrate to .Net to take advantage of better scalability and deployment features. Microsoft already ships migration utilities that help companies run COM applications on the new platform while their developers absorb newer languages such as C# and .Net technologies.

Advanced Server 2000 provides companies with a solid foundation for scaling applications up to high-traffic volumes. Its strong resource pooling and caching features, such as scheduled preloading and dynamic connection management, help companies make the most of databases and file servers. It also provides performance-based load balancing to efficiently distribute loads at peak times to multiple servers.

Related story
Microsoft polishes .Net Server
The software maker inches closer
to releasing Windows .Net Server 2003.

Because this performance architecture is the backbone for .Net Server 2003 and Forrester has tested the Advanced Server 2000 as part of its TechRankings research, companies should feel confident that this product delivers stronger reliability and processing power. One feature that companies will need to wait for is improved application integration. Advanced Server 2000 now relies heavily on the integration services in Microsoft's BizTalk Server.

The downside? Enterprise integration. While many of its competitors use their application server products to support messaging and transaction processing, Microsoft offers these features only on its BizTalk Server--which is sold separately. Companies considering deploying enterprise applications will need to rely on BizTalk, a relatively young integration server, to handle these demands.

In addition to this application server platform, Microsoft just announced Content Management Server 2002 at the Microsoft Exchange Conference. The product?s significant enhancements in areas like authoring, development and Web services are largely based on the current integration between the content management system and Visual Studio .Net.

.Net Server 2003 promises improved Web services support, portal integration and security. Microsoft is one of the only software vendors that can pull this off. Its next-generation operating system, which combines content management, commerce, integration and portal services, will force BEA, IBM, Oracle and Sun to respond. Right now, IBM is its most aggressive foe.

© 2002, Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved. Information is based on best available resources. Opinions reflect judgment at the time and are subject to change.

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