Tech Ed: Microsoft serves up 'enterprise agility'

It's the year of the enterprise for Microsoft and the software giant is going big guns for the market with its enterprise server offerings.

In the keynote address at Tech Ed 2001 in Melbourne on Wednesday, Stan Sorensen, of the .Net Enterprise Servermarketing division, said the enterprise surfaced as a top priority for Microsoft. The company is working on services and support to enable enterprises to build their businesses on Microsoft.

Sorensen revealed that CEO Steve Ballmer sent an e-mail to Microsoft staff earlier this year listing Enterprise Servers as one of the top priorities after Windows and productivity.

As a result, Microsoft has 12 different enterprise servers with simplified, CPU-based pricing. It has also combined Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS) and its post-sales organisation to create the Software Assurance program, a single,consistent point of contact for its partners.

The next version of SQL Server, Yukon, was also previewed at the keynote. Yukon, due to be released in two years, boasts software that allows the user to search structured, semi structured and unstructured data from the same server.

Sorensen told Computerworld that the only product on the market today that is similiar to Yukon is Oracle's offering.

However, Oracle's product involves an additional layer on top of database, which Sorensen said makes it cumbersome to use. With Yukon's software the disparate data sits side by side on the same container so that it can be accessed from a variety of devices regardless of its format.

Giving users access to their files from wireless devices, such as handheld computers, is part of Microsoft's effort to make its operating system a basis for Internet-based computing and free users from being chained to the desk. It will bring enterprises one step closer to what Microsoft labels "enterprise agility".

Sorensen outlined what Microsoft has identified as the four pillars that need to be in place to enable enterprise agility: connection with customers; integrated partners - such as streamlined B2B communications; employee empowerment through better desktop productivity and communication; and a rock-solid IT infrastructure, which underlies the first three pillars.

Microsoft's enterprise server offerings have been built to strengthen these pillars, Sorensen said.

"Enterprise agility fundamentally changes the way businesses do business," he said.

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