'Shadow copy' falls on .Net server horizon

Eager to push deeper into the enterprise, Microsoft is touting a raft of new features in its Windows .Net server platform it hopes will entice developers, CTOs, and service providers to make the transition.

Recently announced in Beta 3 version and due for final release about next April, Microsoft executives told InfoWorld during recent briefings one of the compelling new features under development is known as "shadow copy."

In essence, shadow copy falls under the platform's file and print services, offering a point in time view of files on a server.

"If you have ever deleted something on a file server that you shouldn't have, you'll be able to find older versions of it," said Jay Jamison, group product manager, Windows .Net product management group. He agreed that it's "very similar" to the snapshot technology found in the storage world.

Jamison argues that with shadow copy embedded at the server level, it provides "an additional safety net" for users. "We see this as a key innovation around file servers," he said.

Of course, shadow copy is one element in Microsoft's broader strategy to unify its product lines under the XML Web services banner. "We see an opportunity to innovate in file and print to make the knowledge worker's experience richer," he said.

On the broader collaboration front, Microsoft views .Net server as the application platform that will enable this rich experience, brought to reality through things such as integrated real-time communications.

As a result, .Net server will contain the SIP (session initiation protocol) and a number of APIs for developers to build these communication functions. Still waiting for IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) approval, the SIP protocol is used to establish two way communication sessions, used in real-world applications like VoIP (voice over IP) and rich instant messaging.

Cliff Reeves, Microsoft's vice president of marketing for Windows .Net Server, said .Net Server's positioning as an application server sets it up as the ideal platform to manage such services.

Organizations are now looking for ways to secure instant messaging as a business asset on their network, particularly as they start to look for ways of collaborating using things like Microsoft's Sharepoint Team Services, he said.

Meanwhile, Dwight Krossa, director of product marketing, Windows .Net product management group, said that developers should be expecting .Net Server to be a "fantastic development platform" when combined with other offerings like ASP.Net.

In addition, he said the final release will contain improved scalability, management, and security features. One of the additional security features under development is improved automatic security updates. "If you choose, [patches and security updates] will be automatically downloaded to your server," he said. "We want to make that really simple."

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