Monday was Microsoft Scalability Day. What? You missed it? Where were you? Obviously not in New York, where Microsoft executives positioned the company's high-end Windows NT technology as the latest extension to its Windows Everywhere campaign.
At the event that gathered Microsoft executives, ISVs, and hardware partners, company chairman and CEO Bill Gates plugged NT's applicability in the enterprise and outlined coming features, such as clustering support and 64-bit extensions, to back up his claims.
Executives demonstrated Windows NT and Microsoft's next release of its SQL Server database powering the Microsoft Terra Server, which stores a one-terabyte database on a single NT node. This system, based on Digital's AlphaServer 4100 with four processors and 2G bytes of memory, is the largest NT node to date, Gates said. The company also demonstrated an NT-powered system that can perform over one billion transactions a day.
Yet what most distinguishes Microsoft's enterprise strategy, according to Gates, is the fact that it is based on the highly successful PC model.
"PC performance is improving at an incredible rate," Gates said. "The work done by Digital and Intel have given us engines to take a strong role on the desktop and move and be the highest volume servers out there. What it means for customers are high volume standard servers that give them lots of choices, and as they add servers they can mix and match."
Microsoft group vice president of applications and systems Paul Maritz added that these high-end extensions to the Windows family are intended extend the reach of the technology base while maintaining consistency and compatibility.
"The challenge is not just to scale, [but to also] provide a common infrastructure between small, medium, and large businesses. The Internet will have commerce and information flowing across organizational lines; we would like to make it easier to do that, not harder," Maritz said. "We have a rigid philosophy of maintaining real symmetry between what's running on server and client. Users aren't always connected to the network, so they want to have infrastructure on client the as well."
To that end, Maritz announced that Microsoft will package separate versions of Windows NT Server, SQL Server, and the BackOffice suite to target different needs.
Windows NT Server will continue to be marketed as a departmental server. Microsoft in the third quarter plans to release Windows NT Server 4.0 Enterprise Edition. This version will support clustering, run on eight-way symmetric multiprocessing servers, offer 50% more memory to each application, and include the Microsoft Transaction Server and Microsoft Message Queue, officials said. Pricing has not been released.
The company is also expected to release a small-business version of Windows NT, code-named SAM.
Also due in the third quarter is the enterprise edition of SQL Server, which will take advantage of additional memory space and implement clustering, Maritz said.
In the first quarter of 1998, Microsoft will add scalability features to the components in BackOffice with the enterprise edition of this product. It will include the new version of SQL Server plus an upgrade to its Exchange messaging software that will be able to store larger message databases. It will also feature a new version of Site Server that incorporates Microsoft's Commerce server, Maritz said.
In the meantime, Microsoft next quarter will release a small-business version of BackOffice that will be simplified so that a small organization could install one CD on one server and have the software configure itself.