IT still vital, Microsoft stresses

IT is still critical for a competitive advantage, stressed a Microsoft official at the TechEd 2003 conference in Dallas this week.

          IT is still critical for a competitive advantage, stressed a Microsoft official at the TechEd 2003 conference in Dallas this week.

          He also touted web services and provided product road maps. As part of these road maps, Microsoft revealed a delay in delivery of the Yukon database planned for 2004.

          Paul Flessner, Microsoft's senior vice president for the Windows Server division, was quick to reject recently published reports contending that IT no longer offers a competitive advantage because everyone has it.

          "Everyday, our job together is to propel IT forward," Flessner said.

          Conceding that Microsoft has been part of a "crisis in complexity" in IT, Flessner offered up web services and Microsoft's plethora of products such as Windows Server 2003 as a next wave of computing.

          "We have to figure out a way from the inception to the development to the deployment and operations on how we can be more cost effective," Flessner said.

          He stressed that web services presents a standards-bases approach to application infrastructure.

          "It's the right thing to do, it's the right thing for our industry, it's the right way to make our applications relevant for a longer period of time," Flessner said. "It will lower the cost of investment if we do it correctly."

          Microsoft acknowledges not every system will be based on Microsoft software but will support integration with other platforms, he said.

          "Please get connected with web services. I think it's what we need to do as an industry. I hope you do it on the Microsoft platform and .Net," Flessner said.

          An attendee at TechEd, Rodger Ward, network analyst for LAN-networking services at Baptist Health System in San Antonio, agrees that IT differentiation still makes a difference. Ward adds that his company expects to implement web services based on Windows and Netware.

          But Baptist Health System expects to upgrade its Windows NT 4.0 systems to Windows 2000, not the recently released Windows Server 2003, since the 2000 platform is more established at this point, Ward says.

          Flessner provided details on Microsoft's solutions based on the Windows platform, covering aspects ranging from federated identity to XML and application management. Microsoft is proposing its "Windows Server System" as its IT platform, the foundation of which is Windows Server 2003, said Flessner.

          He provided brief road maps of a plethora of Microsoft products, including acknowledging the delay of the next version of the SQL Server database, codenamed "Yukon." It is now scheduled for release in the second half of 2004. It had been slated for the first half of 2004.

          The company is delaying the release for quality assurance, but the delay also will enable Microsoft to synchronise plans for putting the company’s Common Language Runtime (CLR) in both its database and development tools, says Stan Sorensen, Microsoft director SQL Server product management. CLR is intended to make it easy to design components and applications in which objects interact across applications. Yukon also is expected to feature improvements in areas such as business intelligence and security.

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