More with less is Microsoft pitch

Microsoft was doing its best to show it has IT managers' interests at heart at the Auckland launch of Windows Server 2003, Visual Studio .Net 2003 and .Net Framework 1.1 last week.

Microsoft was doing its best to show it has IT managers’ interests at heart at the Auckland launch of Windows Server 2003, Visual Studio .Net 2003 and .Net Framework 1.1 this week.

“Doing more with less” was the slogan at the event, clearly created to appeal to US IT bosses, who’re particularly budget-constrained, but considered relevant here as well.

But playing up price could be out of step with the times in New Zealand: according to a recent study by analyst IDC, keeping end-users happy is the top priority of CIOs here, rather than cost reduction (see The complexities of the CIO's lot).

Even so, no one minds getting more for less, and according to Microsoft’s head of business productivity, Robert McDowell (pictured), that’s what the new server OS delivers.

Among the numbers McDowell flashed in front of his audience was a claimed “30% efficiency gain” from running Server 2003, compared with Windows 2000. That comes about through greater scalability than Windows 2000, cutting server requirements from 1500 to 500 in one of McDowell’s examples.

“We’re talking about real money here,” said McDowell; “quantifiable, measurable.”

Similarly, the new development tools are twice as fast, perform twice as well and require a sixth of the code of J2EE, he claimed. Anyone wanting to take the company to task on the claims was welcome to do so; they were figures based on the experiences of third-parties, McDowell said.

Third-parties — customers and partners — featured at the launch. Mainfreight, Carter Holt Harvey’s Oxygen business unit and healthAlliance are local organisations that have already deployed the new software. HealthAlliance infrastructure planning manager Alistair Neave says Server 2003 has been deployed on one server so radiologists can take advantage of the new OS’s improved remote access functionality to view x-rays off-site.

HealthAlliance, a service company set up by the Counties Manukau and Waitemata District Health Boards, faced no extra licence fee for the upgrade. But Neave says the appeal of cost savings from the new OS is compelling.

“HealthAlliance exists to reduce costs. Focusing on server consolidation is a key part of our strategy.”

Mainfreight’s experience has been on the development front. IT manager Kevin Drinkwater says .Net has been deployed with Windows Server 2003 to provide a viewing layer for 11 databases the company has inherited through acquisitions and mergers. The $250,000 project solved a problem which would have cost up to $25 million to overcome if the company had opted to create a new application.

Drinkwater concedes he didn’t fully explore the possibility of using Java for the project, but says an initial inquiry suggested it “didn’t stack up”.

“The surprising thing is that the [.Net] prototype creation was so quick — about four hours. I suspected it was smoke and mirrors.”

McDowell said while the company is pitching the new products on price, that’s not the whole story.

“Cost absolutely is a big issue, but it is irrelevant if we don’t meet the bar in relation to quality. We’ll go toe-to-toe on a technical level with any other data centre OS.”

McDowell isn’t afraid to extend the challenge to Linux on mainframes, as IBM is implementing at Air New Zealand.

“The real issue is, what is the total cost of the environment?”

Windows Server 2003 options

  • Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition: $2814.70 for five client licences

  • Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition: $10,800.10 for 25 client licences (prices include GST)

  • Windows Server 2003 Datacentre Edition: ask your supplier

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