Microsoft Defends Win Server 03 Interoperability

Microsoft officials address interoperability and explain why some of its own apps won't run on the OS.

Microsoft Corp. officials defended the fact that some of Microsofts own applications, like Exchange 5.5 and Exchange 2000, wont run on Windows Server 2003, saying the development focus with Exchange was how to provide the best messaging and collaboration experience.

"We had to focus the engineering effort on getting things like directory replication and performance—essential for Exchange and Windows server—which meant in some cases assuming a new version of Exchange and Windows Server 2003. So the orientation was making sure that as customers moved to the new platform, they got highly performing, reliable and manageable solutions," Bill Veghte, the corporate vice president of Microsofts Windows Server group, told eWEEK in an interview.

Most of the product versions that would not work with Windows Server 2003 were in the NT 4.0 product wave, and Veghte told his engineering team to first focus on the migration, as this offered a lot of value in the improved experience.

Legacy versions of Microsofts SQL Server database (versions 6.5 and 7.0) also will not run on Server 2003 at all, while SQL Server 2000 will only run with a server pack. Gordon Mangione, the corporate vice president of the SQL Server team, told eWEEK in an interview this week that the vast majority of SQL customers had indicated that they were going to be deploying its latest version on the latest operating system.

"Then the discussion we had with customers is whether they wanted us to take its testing resources, divide these by three, and put them into each of the previous versions of the database. They said they wanted us to go full bore on one and tell them what the recommended platform was for them to go and do testing," he said.

As a result there were some things around setup and installation that Microsoft had to fix. It also turned off things by default inside Windows Server 2003 to make it secure. This necessitated making some changes to the database software to deal with that.

"As a result, we made a decision that said its really SQL 2000 that we want to support on this version of the operating system. The installed base is very small on 6.5—perhaps 5 percent—and not much more for 7.0. What weve found is that those customers who have SQL 7 running on Windows 2000 today are fine, what will encourage them to move is server consolidation of that database. So they are going to move the database, not the physical server," Mangione said.

With regard to the issue of directory interoperability, Veghte said that with Windows Server 2003 and the meta-directory, customers do not have to use Active Directory as their core identity store.

"You can pump it back and forth. Sure, Id love the world to have one identity store in Active Directory, but customers told us they had more identity stores and wanted to be able to move that integration back and forth and if youre going to be a supplier for us, weve got to have both," he said.

Microsoft supports both LDAP and SAMIL, and customers can use Microsoft as a pure LDAP provider or use a third-party LDAP provider or utilize the experience provided out of the box. "There is no server vendor offering that level of choice across that many server workloads. Certainly not Sun and certainly not IBM," he said.

When customers challenged him on interoperability, Veghte said he asked them which standards and technologies they wanted Microsoft to support that it was not supporting. Microsoft was way ahead of Sun and IBM with regard to directory interoperability, he said.

"Weve done the pump, and weve supported LDAP and SAMIL," he said.