Microsoft to issue recommendations on data centres

Hoping to convince large companies of the viability of running Windows servers in enterprise-class data centres, Microsoft will publish in the fourth quarter of this year four reference guides on how to achieve high performance rates for availability and reliability, an official said.

The guides focus on data centres, enterprise data centres, Internet data centres, and high-availability geographic worldwide data centres.

"We can tell you things that, if you do them right, will yield a high-performance system," said Cliff Reeves, vice president for the Windows.NET server solutions group at Microsoft, in Redmond, Washington.

The guides build on work Microsoft conducted a few years ago with Windows NT customers that demonstrated how shops running the servers in specific configurations reaped uptimes that were as much as 10 times greater than uptimes some other customers experienced.

"This is an evolution of that. It's not the OS, per se, but how it's used and a complex system of issues," Reeves said.

Windows servers, for instance, tend to operate more effectively with some storage systems and firewalls than with others, he added as an example.

Reeves also said that when Microsoft was running a benchmarking configuration, it discovered that just using a different set of cabling increased performance enough to make the change noteworthy.

This is not the first Microsoft initiative to make its servers perform better. The Windows Datacenter Program exists to combine software and hardware with services in such a manner that customers get the whole package. In fact, Datacenter Server is sold only through hardware OEMs, who preinstall it and handle what Microsoft calls "extra configuration control" to help customers get more availability out of the systems.

Furthermore, Microsoft has made certification of devices, applications, and drivers more stringent for the Datacenter and Advanced Server editions of Windows 2000 than it had for previous Windows versions, a move seen by analysts as positive for consumers and similar to the way Unix vendors control configurations.

Al Gillen, a system software analyst with Framingham, Massachusetts-based market research firm International Data Corp., said the guides serve as a kind of recipe book for creating more reliable systems.

"That's good knowledge to have. Anything Microsoft can offer users to increase the availability will help," Gillen added.

But not everyone is convinced that Windows is really worthy of enterprise-class data centres. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, one industry insider said the mere fact that Microsoft needs added guides and programs flies right in the face of Datacenter Server itself.

"Datacenter is supposed to achieve high-availability on its own," the source said.

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