Microsoft Server Missing Key Applications

Microsoft last week threw a wingding of an event to launch its high-end Windows 2000 Datacenter Server but conspicuously absent from the gathering were applications for the platform.

There isn't a single application certified for Datacenter, and Lionbridge Technologies Inc.'s VeriTest, which is in charge of certification, opened the testing facility just last week. Right now only five applications are set for testing. However, Lionbridge officials say many more are likely to be submitted soon.

Microsoft's SQL Server 2000 is one of the five and may be available as early as this month. The SQL database is a key driver for adoption of Datacenter, which is touted as a highly reliable platform for large databases. In addition, Exchange 2000, which is touted as a killer application for Datacenter, won't be certified to run on the platform until at least next year, according to Jim Ewel, marketing vice president for IT infrastructure and hosting for Microsoft. While Exchange 2000 should be generally available this month, the software will not support four-node clustering until the release of Service Pack 1.

Four-node clustering is a highlight of Datacenter's reliability claims, and applications must be designed to be cluster-aware before they can be certified.

"Microsoft is out ahead of its [independent software vendors]," says John Enck, an analyst with Gartner Group Inc. in Stamford, Conn. "Datacenter users will demand certified apps so this is an issue, but given the long lead times in deploying this system it's not likely to become a major issue."

Exchange, SQL and other applications will run on Datacenter now, but certification plays a key role in the tightly controlled Datacenter environment. Datacenter is only available from hardware OEMs that pass a 14-day certification test. Applications that touch the operating system kernel must be certified on the OEM platform and by VeriTest. For example, Compaq Computer Corp. will submit for testing back-up, antivirus, and management software for the Proliant 8500 and Proliant ML770 Datacenter servers it announced last week, according to Robin Hensley, director of industry-standard servers for Compaq. Applications that don't run through the kernel must only pass VeriTest to get the compatibility logo.

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