Microsoft Pitches Human Side of Windows Server System

The company on Thursday afternoon announced a new worldwide campaign, which will feature specific IT staffers from enterprise and mid-level firms that use the Windows Server System solutions.

Microsoft Corp. will put a more human face on its upcoming global multimillion dollar advertising program for its Windows Server System.

The company, which is set to announce the new ad campaign at its Silicon Valley campus on Thursday afternoon, will spend tens of millions of dollars on this worldwide campaign, which will feature specific IT staffers from enterprise and mid-level firms that use the Windows Server System solutions.

The first ads will start appearing online and in the leading U.S. IT print publications, including eWEEK, on February 9, and be rolled out internationally about two weeks later.

Valerie Olague, a Windows Server System director, told eWeek in an interview ahead of Thursdays formal announcement, that the campaign will be focused on the IT professional and the challenges they face with doing more with less.

Microsoft decided to focus on individual customers it had been working with over time, many of whom were joint development partners for Windows Server 2003. Others were customers who were starting new deployments with Microsoft, she said

"But these are all customers who do not use one product, but rather see the value of using Windows Server System, starting with the operating system, and doing it in a manageable way. The focus of this ad campaign is management, doing more with less administrative focus, less time and resources," Olague said.

The campaign is designed to be customer-centric; each ad will picture and name individual staff members of the particular company that is the subject of the ad. The first wave of ads will feature four Microsoft global customers: Motorola Inc., Siemens AG, Reuters PLC and Toyota Motor Corp.

The first ad, which starts running on February 9, will feature Steven Bramson, a senior systems architect at Motorola, who has seven employees reporting to him and who manages more than 4,000 servers across Motorola.

"What was consistent across all four of these companies was their ability to consolidate their infrastructure and costs and get a handle on managing the complexity of their IT infrastructures. Siemens, Motorola and Toyota all have large Active Directory deployments out there," Olague said.

The first wave of ads featuring the four global companies would run through the summer, and be followed by a second wave of adverts featuring some 30 mid-market names, she said, adding that Microsoft had made no payment to any of the individuals or companies featured in the adverts.

"This is a long-running campaign and our focus continues to be on operational efficiency helping customers drive greater efficiencies so they can do more with less," Olague said.

Microsoft had been driving the focus for Windows Server System, since its launch last April, on helping its customers do more with less, she said, adding that the Windows Server System brand refers to not only Windows Server 2003, but also to all the applications that run above the operating system.

The focus of the new ads will be to show how it can be used to reduce the complexity of IT and help individuals be more successful in their jobs. "We have been investing heavily in our server products to help customer achieve that. Our goal is to help customers build better applications faster and help them empower information workers across their organization," Olague said.

"We have looked deeply across all of the server products in Windows Server System and those products have to do certain things to help customers drive new value to be part of that brand," Olague added.

That meant having all of the server products .Net connected, causing a very tight core integration with Visual Studio .Net and providing a core XML Web services support across all the servers, she said.

One of the customers who will be used during the first phase of the ad campaign is Reuters. Bill Evjen, the technical director at Reuters in St. Louis, Missouri, worked on a project known as the Reuters Architecture for Product Integration and Delivery (Rapid), a platform for delivering new applications and which allowed it to manage more than 10,000 customer servers on a worldwide basis.

"One of our core challenges was to be able to interact with all the different data systems we have and the Rapid platform for the new applications we are deploying really needed to be able to do that," he told eWeek.

Reuters was using Visual Studio .Net and XML Web services for the interoperability capabilities it has built into its new applications. Windows Server 2003 also supported Web services natively in the operating system and had good interoperability capability to allow Reuters to connect its products to its enterprise applications while connecting to its customers existing IT systems, he said.

Asked how this latest ad campaign played into the recently announced "Get the Facts" campaign designed to show the merits of Windows over Linux, Olague said there was a correlation between the two "in the sense that were talking about server software."

"The Get the Facts campaign is focused on third-party evidence that compares Microsoft platforms to Linux. This new campaign is just looking at the customer and what they are able to do with our products," she said.