At the recent Tech Ed show in San Diego, Microsoft executives made many announcements about the future directions and key features of their products.
In a keynote speech, Andy Lees, corporate vice president in charge of server and tools marketing, discussed a plan to increase integration and ease of management across all of Microsofts server products.
The main focus of Lees speech was a new document called the Common Engineering Roadmap. This roadmap outlines a plan to create a common design, management and training base for all of the products in Windows Server System.
Now, you may be wondering, "Whats Windows Server System?" Its a superset of Microsofts old "Jupiter" plan for a unified server platform. It comprises all of Microsofts server-based enterprise products, from BizTalk Server to ISA to SQL Server and everything in between.
According to the road map, Microsofts plan is to have every server application in Windows Server System incorporate these common engineering principles beginning with their next revisions, due out next year.
The intent is to greatly increase integration between the products, make them much easier to manage and update, and facilitate training, since many of the same processes will carry through in each product.
We think that if Microsoft adheres to this plan, it could be a very good thing for its customers. Companies that are mainly Microsoft shops will especially benefit, but even sites that base only a portion of their infrastructure on Microsoft server products will appreciate the common management interfaces and improved integration.
When talk turns to integration, however, its understandable if some observers wonder whether Microsoft has other goals in mind with its road map.
After all, there are plenty of examples in its history where better integration between Microsoft products really meant preventing other vendors products from integrating with Microsoft products.
Theres certainly the possibility that this could happen with the Common Engineering Roadmap and Windows Server System. After all, like most companies, Microsoft is happiest if customers use only its products.
However, there is reason to hope that Microsoft understands that todays market is different and that its old best-on-Microsoft tactics wont work.
For example, the goal of BizTalk Server is to integrate external business processes with customer and partner systems. If BizTalk doesnt do this well, customers wont be able to use it.
The same can be said for many other Microsoft server products, such as Commerce Server, Identity Integration Server and even SQL Server.
This time, its not only in the best interest of buyers and rivals that Microsoft keep its server products free from exclusivity, but its also in Microsofts best interest.
As long as Microsoft leaders understand this, everyone will benefit from increased integration and ease of management for Microsoft servers, even if a company decides not to use Microsoft servers exclusively.
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