IBM has taken an aggressive stance in its support of the forthcoming Windows 2000, promising that many of its key products will work with the OS when it becomes generally available.
DB2 Universal Database, MQSeries, Websphere, Notes and Domino, and Tivoli's enterprise management packages will fully exploit all of Windows 2000's systems services by the first quarter of 2000. The rest of IBM's 300 software products will be able to take full advantage of Windows 2000 in stages over the course of 2000 and 2001.
"By the end of 2001 all of our products will be exploitive of the Windows 2000 system services," says Dick Sullivan, vice president of IBM's Integrated Solutions group.
IBM will also offer a variety of support services to corporate customers that install Beta 3 of Windows 2000, due to ship next week. However, IBM officials do not expect many customers to use the beta as a production platform.
"Many won't have it up for production use, but they will certainly be trying to duplicate their NT 4.x environment using [Windows] 2000. If they ask us if it is safe to use IBM software on Beta 3, the answer right now is yes," says Pat Gibney, IBM's Windows NT systems manager.
Gibney says there are problems that users must avoid in the beta version. One is the client software as it runs under Windows Terminal Server, which Gibney says requires "a little bit of work, and testing."
Another area is security. "Microsoft has tightened up the security model of Windows 2000, so there are some functions that our products use that might not be able to be used in a secured environment," Gibney says.
IBM expects Windows 2000 to ship to manufacturing in late October, with the first copies available several weeks later and widespread availability in early 2000. Microsoft has insisted that Windows 2000 will ship in 1999, but cautions that it will not release it until it is ready.
"My information right now has it [that] Microsoft is planning a major launch in November with lots of hype," Gibney says.
Sources have said Microsoft plans to launch Windows 2000 at Fall Comdex, whether or not the product is shipping then.
One of the goals of IBM's Windows 2000 initiative is to offer customers and business partners a single point of contact for Windows 2000 server issues. Those issues will range from middleware products designed to bring better reliability and scalability to the Windows 2000 environment, to the integration of applications across platforms and technical services.
Sullivan notes that about 90% of large enterprises today run at least three different host-based environments and have no plans to reduce that number. In fact, another may be added, with Linux gaining a foothold among corporations.
The vast majority of IBM accounts, according to Sullivan, have at least installed Linux and tested it with existing platforms. A growing number are using it for file and print sharing as well as for some Web-serving applications. However, many are still committed to Unix and Windows NT for those applications that require heavy lifting.
IBM Corp., in Armonk, N.Y., is at www.ibm.com.
Bob Trott contributed to this article.