Microsoft Makes Integration Statement

Vendor touts efforts to improve interconnection among its server software offerings.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

October 10, 2002

3 Min Read

The Microsoft Exchange Conference in Anaheim, Calif., this week may prove to be a watershed event for the company, based on feedback from customers, analysts, and attendees. All agree that Microsoft is taking significant steps to create tighter integration between its software products, thus making it easier to use Web services to tap into business processes.

The show was frontloaded with a flurry of announcements, including:

--Plans for Jupiter, a product due in about 18 months that will combine Microsoft's content-management, commerce, and BizTalk servers, relieving customers of time-consuming integration projects--Details of next year's release of an anticipated update to the company's Exchange messaging server, code-named Titanium, as well as a look at Outlook 11, the newest version of Microsoft's E-mail client, which is expected to be released in conjunction with Titanium --A new storage architecture in the pending Windows .Net Server 2003 called volume shadow copy services, which will make it possible to take a complete snapshot of a database by freezing an application for an instant and copying only completed transactions, making it easier to restore a database to any given point in the past --General availability of Microsoft's newest content-management server, which observers say establishes the company as a potential market leader --A glimpse at XSO, the code name for Microsoft's new managed API that's designed to let developers integrate their .Net applications with Exchange

Informal discussions with attendees indicate they're impressed with the concrete business benefits Microsoft demonstrated by incorporating multiple demos into both of its keynote presentations by senior VP Paul Flessner and CIO Rick Devenuti. In fact, several times during Flessner's keynote, the audience broke into spontaneous applause at client features being demonstrated by Microsoft managers, spurring Flessner to quip, "That's it, no more client demos during a server keynote."

Customers were excited by the direction Microsoft appears to be taking with its software products. "What I'm encouraged by is that Microsoft is looking at how I take these toolsets and integrate them to solve business problems," said Therese Fontaine, senior architect at Honeywell International Inc.'s automation and control solutions unit.

Microsoft itself may not be a representative example of its customers, given its technical sophistication, but Devenuti shared some of the benefits Microsoft is realizing in running beta versions of its software. For instance, Microsoft already has tapped the server-consolidation capabilities of Titanium to cut the number of Exchange servers running at the company's Redmond headquarters from 35 to eight. Microsoft also is doing exactly what its customers are looking to do in terms of simplifying access to data. "We're relying on Web services to provide application visibility to people who don't want client applications," Devenuti said.

Not surprisingly, however, customers are always interested in what's coming next, and those gathered at the conference noted that there are still missing links. Among the areas they want to see Microsoft continue to address: security, tools that can manage applications across an enterprise, and Web services that can process complex financial transactions.

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