Microsoft Corp. customers who upgrade to Windows Server 2003 could end up paying more than expected due to a host of layered add-on services scheduled to ship over the next six to nine months.
While the Redmond, Wash., software developer is remaining tight-lipped, sources said the company is considering charging users for a handful of add-on services that would be released after the initial launch of the product this week in San Francisco. Forthcoming services, they said, include the companys RTC (Real-Time Communications) Server, Active Directory Application Mode and Windows Rights Management, among others.
According to Bill Veghte, corporate vice president of the Windows Server group, Microsoft is committed to providing “logical, economically approachable solutions.”
“We want to provide developers programmatic access to the [Session Initiation Protocol] stack as thats what they want on the platform, and I want to deliver that as part of the new platform,” Veghte said in an interview last week with eWeek (see Face to Face). “Thats what Microsoft feels you should get for free, and we want to make that available to them this year. But there are no announcements at this time about how we think above that.”
Some of Microsofts largest enterprise customers, such as Lockheed Martin Enterprise Information Systems, in Orlando, Fla., dont like the idea of paying extra for add-on technologies.
Massimo Villinger, chief technology officer for Lockheed Martin, said the company, which has a volume licensing agreement with Microsoft for its hundreds of servers and some 165,000 desktops, wanted to maximize its licensing benefits and minimize its licensing costs.
“We expect not to be paying a lot more for these technologies unless there are significant capabilities there. The architectural aspects of RTC are still evolving, and Microsoft has not told us they intend to charge for the product … but you can be sure we will negotiate very hard with them around this,” Villinger said.
A few prerequisites for Lockheed Martins IT infrastructure were a secure and robust infrastructure with identity and access management, a network with sufficient bandwidth and quality of service to facilitate machine-to-machine interaction, applications designed for mobile users and the exposure of legacy applications to Web services.
“Thats where Server 2003 becomes very important to us. Its also more secure out of the box,” Villinger said. “The integration of the .Net Framework is key for us as that provides the integral and built-in capabilities of XML in the context of Web services.”
Lockheed Martin has been prototype-testing RTC, which requires Server 2003 to run, as a Joint Development Partner with Microsoft. According to Villinger, Microsoft has made it clear that the instant messaging capabilities that are now part of Exchange 2000 will be pulled out of the platform and become part of RTC.
That was one of the main motivations behind Lockheed Martins decision to move to RTC, Villinger said, adding that the second phase of RTC will include conferencing and multimedia capabilities.
But other large-enterprise customers disagree and say theyd prefer to pay for additional technology at times rather than have it built into the core operating system.
Jeff ODell, vice president of architecture for health benefits provider Cigna Corp., in Bloomington, Conn., said he is willing to pay for additional layered services because of the flexibility to choose among them.
That would be less problematic than having them all built into the core operating system, he said. Still, ODells feelings are mixed.
“If things are incorporated in and free, and we think were going to leverage them, to us thats goodness as we get more functionality that we can just turn on versus the effort of installing something thats separate,” ODell said.
Cigna is running a pilot business-critical application on Windows Server 2003, which is used by 3,000 users.
The company plans to add Server 2003 to its development projects going forward and to ultimately target the workloads it is migrating from Windows NT to the new platform. The company said it expects to make this switch later this year.
ODell said Cigna also sees Server 2003 as an opportunity to reduce the number of servers required to run its business, particularly with its built-in and unique virtualization features such as Component Object Model+ services partitioning and application pooling. These allowed Cigna to run disparate configurations on the same server, and aggregating those resources allowed it to run on fewer, larger servers.
Microsofts Veghte said the company has made other notable improvements with Server 2003, particularly the fact that users will be able to simultaneously run a mixture of NT 4.0, Windows 2000 and 2003.
“I gave the directory team a primary scenario with Server 2003: to be able to run in mixed mode. Whats got to happen is that while we keep innovating, we cant ask them to throw their investments out every three years,” Veghte said.
Veghte also addressed speculation about whether there would be another server release when the next Windows client, currently code-named Longhorn, is released in about 18 months. “In general, doing a server release on an 18-month time frame is not something I think is realistic.
“It is very hard to do a server release that represents the customer advancement in an 18-month turn and then go and tell the customers to rev their servers again,” Veghte said.
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