Microsoft scaling up and out

Microsoft has released a beta version of its Application Center Server 2000 deployment and management tool, bolstering the software's range and programmability.

Application Center enables IT to deploy and manage Windows 2000 clusters and plays into Microsoft's strategy of offering both 'scale-out' and 'scale-up' approaches to expansion.

Scale-out refers to adding a number of small commodity systems to a server farm, while scale-up connotes using bigger, more powerful hardware, typically in the same machine, according to Michael Goulde, an analyst at the Patricia Seybold Group.

Datacenter Server, which Microsoft plans to release this year, will enable the 'scale-up' approach. Application Center furthers the scale-out approach by enabling IT to manage clusters.

"There hasn't been a way to easily manage these server farms, to add components, move components, or change components," Goulde said. "Application Center allows Windows 2000 to more effectively compete with Solaris and other Unix varieties." Application Center's functionality was originally included in Windows 2000, but Microsoft broke it out of the OS and made it a stand-alone product in September of last year.

Microsoft is targeting mid-size businesses with Application Center, according to Richard Ptak, an analyst at the Hurwitz Group. "[Microsoft] made it available to provide less sophisticated users the ability to use sophisticated tools," he added.

This is the second phase in beta testing of Application Center Server.

Microsoft added to this version the command line utility that enables users to write their own scripts. Beta 1 also was limited to replicating 20,000 items, and that limit was lifted, according to Bob Pulliam, the technical product manager for Application Center Server.

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