Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday launched a more comprehensive program to help drive customers away from Unix and onto the Windows platform.
While Microsoft has previously offered individual tools to help in this regard—such as its Services for Unix software, which allows greater operability between existing Unix-based enterprise systems and Windows on both the server and desktop—the idea now is to provide greater support and services around these migrations.
The new program, known as the Microsoft Solution for Unix Migration, was announced Tuesday at the Microsoft Exchange Conference in Anaheim, Calif.
Doug Miller, director of Microsofts Unix migration strategy, told eWEEK in an interview that enterprises are migrating away from high-cost Unix systems to Windows, as they now feel more comfortable running their large workloads on Windows and getting the scalability, reliability and full integration stack.
“Clearly, Windows is a far lower cost platform to operate over the lifetime of the server platform. Time to market is also a key driving factor. Customers moving from Unix to Windows often dont want to rewrite their applications, and they want to integrate with existing technologies and leverage existing code and skills to lower the cost,” he said.
The new program is centered on not just migration but also better integration of customer applications and prescriptive guidance on how to migrate those applications and potentially evolve them to .Net in a predictable, risk-free way.
On the technology front, Miller said Microsoft is also working on some major enhancements to Visual Studio .Net that will make it more approachable for Unix developers as well as new features in the upcoming Windows .Net server 2003 family.
“A major new component of this program is in the services and content area. On the content side, weve announced the availability of our Unix Application Migration Guide on MSDN, which addresses integration challenges and deployment issues. It walks through a number of scenarios and provides code samples,” Miller said.
On the service side, Microsoft is offering two-day architect-level workshops where it will sit down with the customer and go through a draft plan of how they can accomplish this integration and migration as well as a range of solutions.
Another component of the program is Microsofts commitment to working with third parties in both the tool space and the services space. Dell, IBM Global Services, Unisys, Intel and others support the initiative, he said.
“We are seeing substantial uptake and have over 50 public case studies available around various migration projects weve undertaken over the past year,” Miller said.
: Microsoft Steps Up Efforts to Lure Unix Migrators”>
Microsofts latest moves follow recent programs by both Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM to drive Unix migrators to Linux. At that time, HP and IBM said they would roll out aggressive product and marketing programs designed to lure Solaris customers from Sun to their respective Linux offerings.
Microsoft is also using the MEC conference to give more details about its real-time communications and collaboration platform.
Katie Hunter, a Windows .Net Server group product manager, is actively working on the area of end-to-end solutions around real-time communication and collaboration that Microsofts Greenwich (the code-name for its new real-time platform) and others are focused on.
The Instant Messaging feature will no longer be part of Microsoft Exchange in the next release, code-named Titanium. “This is not Microsoft saying IM isnt a great scenario for the enterprise. IT staff faces challenges around external public IM clients on the desktop and securing those IM conversations and managing that environments is something weve heard to be a great challenge,” she said.
Microsoft is thus looking to deliver enterprise-class Instant Messaging, which will allow IT staff to manage and secure those conversations. The Greenwich platform for real-time communications, which will be released sometime after the Windows .Net server 2003 family, will offer such features as encryption of IM traffic, integration into the enterprise directory and infrastructure—tightly linked to Active Directory. Conversations will also be able to be logged and archived, she said.
“We are also enriching IM beyond just text and will be adding voice and video and data collaboration to those scenarios. We see many opportunities around this platform beyond IM,” Hunter said.
While the timeline for Greenwich is post-Windows .Net 2003 server, Microsoft wants to make the platform pervasive and feels that bringing it within the .Net 2003 server platform will achieve that.
Microsoft is looking for a release in the second or third quarter of next year but has not yet determined how it will be delivered or priced. “But you can probably expect something like a feature pack,” she said.
On the client side, Microsoft is looking at its Windows XP Messenger client. This will essentially become version 5.0 of Messenger, which would become a triple-stack client with one client speaking to the RTC service for Instant Messaging, another able to speak to the Exchange IM service if that is still around in the enterprise and can speak to the MSN Messenger Service.
“At the time of this release there will also be a version for Windows 2000 Professional. That wont have all the functionality of XP, as were relying on some of its underlying architecture to support a few of those scenarios,” Hunter said.
Going forward, Microsoft will create more innovation around the IM space and will work with ISVs and ISPs around collaboration scenarios that will allow presence information to be enabled on corporate infrastructures, she said.
“We are looking to enable things like the PC and the phone working better together and in the area of connected meetings. The conference functionality would not be immediately delivered with Greenwich, and solutions using the Greenwich infrastructure would be provided by third parties on top of that.
While the current Exchange solution, which does not use the Greenwich infrastructure, would still be available, the code-set would be moved onto maintenance mode, with a service pack coming out shortly,” Hunter said.