Microsoft unveils .Net strategy

Microsoft's latest version of Exchange, the launch of its .Net strategy and the release of its new Datacenter program has kept Microsoft officials busy over the past few weeks, and has left the channel to ponder where the opportunities lie.

Microsoft last week launched a slew of new enterprise software under its .Net strategy designed to provide the "building blocks" for companies to e-enable their business. The company has also heralded its new Datacenter platform, targeting Unix domination at the high-end of the enterprise market.

To peg back market share of Unix-based servers, Microsoft has sidled up to a number of the big hardware vendors, including Compaq, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, IBM and Unisys, in order to bundle its Datacenter platform with their big server boxes; such as Unisys' ES7000 server, which is being OEM'ed by Compaq and HP.

Tony Wilkinson, Windows Server product manager for Microsoft Australia, claims the strategy behind its .Net and Datacenter initiative is to provide enterprises with "high availability", based largely on extensible markup language (XML).

According to Wilkinson, the opportunity for resellers then is more Microsoft products to take to their customers - not to mention the fact that Exchange 2000 is built on top of Microsoft's Active Directory, so companies without Active Directory will need to upgrade to that first.

Exchange 2000 - What's in store?

Microsoft is trying to rally its Exchange installed base, which it claims now stands at 58 million worldwide, to its vision of an Internet-based infrastructure that provides software services and data access to users regardless of how they connect to the network. And after years of trying, it seems Microsoft has finally delivered a platform that IT shops can use to support and build collaborative applications.

At the Exchange Collaboration and Solutions Conference in the US recently, end users, analysts and independent software vendors said Exchange 2000 is ready to move beyond its e-mail roots.e-mail is the heart of Exchange, but the server's new Web Storage System (WSS), along with workflow, document management, conferencing, instant messaging, offline support and other features, have users mulling the possibilities.

To punctuate the potential, a handful of Lotus business partners which had previously ignored Exchange are now reportedly developing applications for the platform.

Users attending the conference said they were excited about the possibilities Exchange 2000 promises but were wary of the complex task of implementation.

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