Windows 2000 DataCenter billed as workhorse

Microsoft hopes to bolster its push into the enterprise with what the company is billing as a big workhorse version of the upcoming Windows 2000, called DataCenter. But some wonder if it will be powerful enough to handle giant, mission-critical applications.

Microsoft hopes to bolster its push into the enterprise with what the company is billing as a big workhorse version of its upcoming Windows 2000 operating system, called DataCenter.

But some analysts and users wonder if DataCenter, which is expected to ship about three months after the other three versions of Windows 2000 ship, will be powerful enough to handle giant, mission-critical applications.

"Right now, Microsoft hasn't really introduced enough differentiation to make DataCenter compelling," said Neil McDonald, an analyst at Stamford, Connecticut-based Gartner Group Inc. "It's more of a placeholder for future enhancements. ...They're busy just trying to get the product out, and then they'll go back and try to flush out what they can do with DataCenter."

Windows 2000, Microsoft's upcoming update to Windows NT 4.0, is coming out in four packages: Windows 2000 Professional for the client side; Windows 2000 Server for a basic network operating system; Windows Advanced Server to host business-critical Web sites and line-of-business applications; and Windows 2000 DataCenter for high-demand levels of availability, such as online transaction processing and data warehousing.

Craig Beilinson, a Microsoft product manager for Windows 2000, said DataCenter will be Microsoft's power play, offering four-node clustering and 32-way processing. "This is for the application that can't go down," said Beilinson, adding that it's in place to replace Unix servers or, ultimately, even mainframes.

But Microsoft might have to come up with more power than it's got going in DataCenter at this point, according to some industry watchers.

"There's always an interest in getting more power," said James Whitaker, a Novell and NT design engineer for Atlanta-based Nextel Communications Inc. "Our Unix boxes are running our big, mission-critical applications. There's no need to transition over to something else... especially something I haven't even seen yet. I'd have to see some real power."

Dick Claing, a computer scientist at Computer Science Corp. (formerly Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Corp.) in East Hartford, Connecticut, said he's excited at the prospect of getting more NT-based power but he's afraid that more power could translate into more problems.

"Because of its power, there's a lot that can go wrong there," Claing said. "It's new, and new means a lot of testing before you go into it."

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