DALLAS—Microsoft Corp. has pushed back the release of the next version of SQL server, code-named Yukon, which will now ship in the second half of 2004 rather than the first half as previously expected.
Paul Flessner, the senior vice president of Microsofts Windows Server division, told several thousand attendees at his opening keynote at the TechEd conference here on Monday morning that there was “no specific reason for this.”
The first public beta for Yukon will be released later this summer, he said, as he also announced the availability of the Exchange Server 2003 Release Candidate 1. Microsoft itself wanted to consolidate its 144 Exchange mail sites into one powered by eight servers. “A lot of work has gone into this product around integration with Windows Server 2003,” he said.
Flessner also announced the beta of BizTalk Server 2004, the first phase of the companys next-generation e-business vision, code-named Jupiter. Microsoft has also decided to slash the price of the developer edition of SQL Server to $49 from $449. “This will be picked up and embedded by other development forms like Borland,” he said.
Flessner also told the audience that Microsoft would extend its business intelligence platform by shipping Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Reporting Services by the end of the year, following a public beta this fall.
Flessner also gave a product roadmap going forward. Among the upcoming releases for this year and in 2004 are Office 2003; the next version of SQL Server, code-named Yukon; and the next version of Visual Studio .Net, code-named Whitby
2005 is expected to bring the release of the next-version of the Windows client, code-named Longhorn; another version of Visual Studio .Net, known as Orcas; the release of Microsofts integrated e-business suite, code-named Jupiter; a version of Office for Longhorn; the Real Time Communications Server version 2; and SharePoint Portal Server version 3.
In 2006 and beyond, Microsoft expects to release the next version of Windows Server, believed to be code-named Blackcomb. This appears to confirm comments from Microsoft executives that another major server release is not on the cards for the same time as the Longhorn client release .
Also on the cards for 2006 and out are a version of Exchange Server, code-named Kodiak, which will run on top of SQL Server; and the Microsoft Systems Center.
Moving away from new products to the challenges currently facing the industry, Flessner said the IT industry faces a crisis of complexity and cost, and that Microsoft is part of that.
In an upbeat address titled “The Potential of IT,” Flessner acknowledged that IT needs to deliver more business value, as some 70 percent of IT costs are used to sustain and run their existing capability.
“But, that said, I believe that the potential of IT is unlimited and unbounded. You are the power and what powers IT, thats what makes the industry dynamic. IT has the potential and the potential is you. Our job is to drive IT forward, and software enables business effectiveness,” he told attendees. “Can you stand still? No. If you stagnate, you die in this industry,” he said.
The way to address this, he said, is Web services—which have to be more dynamic and message-based. End-to-end applications management is a critical issue, and the industry needs to make sure that the plumbing—the infrastructure behind this—works.
Microsoft is also paying attention to design points and integration around Windows Server System and working to improve this, he said. Users have asked for more prescriptive guidance and a platform for applications. This cannot take place without tools such as Visual Studio .Net, which Microsoft is continually improving and updating, he said.
An integrated platform needs to focus on simplicity and a lower total cost of ownership, and Microsoft is working hard to make sure that its products integrate better together, added Flessner. It is focused on making sure the environment provided is familiar, fits together and installs in a familiar way, he said.
The foundation for the Windows Server System is the recently released Windows Server 2003. “Were not perfect yet with regard to security, but a huge amount of effort went into this with Server 2003,” Flessner said.
Microsoft is also committed to increasing information worker productivity while decreasing the IT support burden around this, Flessner said, bringing John Rauschenberger, the MD of Clarity Consulting, to the stage.
For the demonstration, Clarity had built an end-to-end business solution for an imaginary health care provider, Contoso, which used the Tablet PC platform to capture structured and unstructured data, interacting with Server 2003.
The physician could write notes, review charts and x-rays as well as the services performed—all of which is pulled directly into the application and stored in the back-end database. Once the physician had signed off on the patient, the claims to the insurance company would be managed as XML forms by the claims administrator, using the Microsoft InfoPath XML forms management application, Rauschenberger said.
Flessner said the application infrastructure and the infrastructure and tools for a service-oriented architecture are vital to the industry going forward, with some 50 percent of all developers currently using Microsofts Visual Studio .Net tool.
Microsofts Dynamic Systems Model is also already addressing the management of applications rather than systems, which will dramatically increase simplicity, flexibility and automation across the application lifecycle, he said.
Flessner concluded by confirming that Microsoft will invest more than $1.7 billion into research and development for the Windows Server System in the 2004 financial year, which starts on July 1, as well as $450 million in community-based efforts to support IT professionals and developers.