As Microsoft prepares for the April launch of Windows Server 2003, it is already hard at work on what it sees as the next big challenge: the virtual datacenter.
Addressing a small group of attendees at Microsofts Mountain View campus on Wednesday afternoon, Bill Veghte, Microsofts corporate vice president of the Windows Server group, committed to making the virtual datacenter an industry-wide initiative.
For its part, Microsoft will provide a system definition model, resource virtualization and partitioning, operational automation, as well as management of APIs and solutions, he said.
“What were now doing is thinking about what Windows Server can do on the deployment and operation and policy of how those applications are written and how server applications such as Exchange or SQL take advantage of them,” Vegte said, declining to elaborate further.
Windows Server 2003 marks Microsofts most important release this year and has further evolved the IT infrastructure platform for customers.
Veghte said Microsoft took a huge step forward with the application server platform, which he said is driving the vision of Web services forward as well as the deployment and operation of those applications.
But Veghte also acknowledged that there are, and will continue to be, a significant number of Unix servers in the installed base, “and we need to do a damn good job of interacting with them.
“I believe you have to have Unix interoperability for people to leverage the skills sets and innovations they already have, even as they take advantage of the out-of-box benefits of Windows server. That functionality is found in our Services for Unix product,” he said.
: Microsofts Next Move: A Virtual Datacenter “>
Microsoft also believes it has built the richest identity store with Active Directory, and has upped the bar with Windows Server 2003, not just for customers but for developers as well. “We support LDAP in Active Directory and are delivering a meta directory so identity objects and data can be moved back and forth between those identity stores,” he said.
But there are also things Microsoft can learn from the community model around open source, he admitted. “The transparency of the development model, the tools they have to debug using source, these are things we need to learn.
“We need to relearn in our development process how to participate with the broader community. I dont know what the right model is for each group, but we need to be out there interacting far more,” Veghte said.
Microsoft also recognized that it needs to be more transparent in its development process. “We need to do a better job of supporting our Most Valued Professional (MVP) partners .
“We also need to use source as a tool. Customers want to use it as an insurance policy and for debugging purposes. We are supplying tools and interfaces around this, and will be doing more going forward. Our ambition is to combine the best of the commercial software model with the best of the community,” he said.
Steering pretty much clear of the controversy surrounding the potential threat to its business from Linux, Veghte simply cited the recent Microsoft-sponsored IDC study, which showed that Windows offers a better total cost of ownership proposition than Linux.
Microsoft is also aware that information technology has to be a strategic asset to companies and not a cost center, which means that cutting costs is not enough—there has to be business value as well, Veghte told the audience.
Server software has to offer a business advantage, where the company can connect with its customers, integrate with partners, and empower employees. It also has to offer a safer investment by reducing expensive downtime, leveraging existing assets and planning for the future.
Server software also has to offer greater choice, greater accountability and lower costs, creating more value for customers money, he said.
The Windows Server platform delivers business advantage on the basis of an integrated platform model; safer investment comes from the best of community and commercial development models; and more value is delivered by providing a thriving global ecosystem, he said.