Three years ago, Microsoft staged an ill-fated marketing event called Scalability Day, aimed at dispelling concerns about its software's ability to handle business workloads. Unfortunately for Microsoft, its claims that "any business of any size can now run its enterprise applications on Microsoft software and industry-standard hardware" proved misleading at best.
Today's release of Windows 2000 Datacenter and
The agenda of today's announcement is ambitious: to introduce new products targeted at business workloads; to try--again--to convince business users that the company's software is capable of meeting their requirements; and to differentiate it from the competition by tying its push to its recently announced .Net strategy.
The products are certainly impressive. Windows 2000 Datacenter Server, for example, shows Microsoft understands businesses care more about partnerships and service and support than they do about speed and feeds. The major difference between Datacenter and the other Windows 2000 servers is a limited set of certified configurations (a "gold" hardware compatibility list), and a unique service and support arrangement using the skills of Microsoft and hardware makers.
The other .Net products introduced--including SQL Server 2000 and Exchange Server 2000--are important, too. But the big news is probably BizTalk Server 2000, the first release of Microsoft's collaboration platform based on Extensible Markup Language (XML) and the center of its current DNA 2000 strategy and future .NET vision. Like the first release of Microsoft Transaction Server (MTS), BizTalk Server will need time to mature; it is not yet up to par with competitive products.
As good as the new products are, it will take more than demos for Microsoft to prove itself to business customers. Although customer references were included in today's event, the primary focus was still on manufacturer testimonials.
One mistake that Microsoft made today--one that is likely to slow its acceptance by businesses--was tying the Enterprise Server announcements to the .Net strategy. The .Net vision--a revolutionary change from today's DNA 2000-based products--is still more than a year away from delivering real product changes. Although .Net appears to be a move in the right direction for Microsoft's enterprise software architecture, it will also cause a certain amount of product upheaval.
Instead of differentiating itself from the competition, Microsoft may have allowed its future vision to cloud what its products can do today.
(For related commentary on Windows 2000 Datacenter Server, see TechRepublic.com--free registration required.)
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