Microsoft Tweaks DNA Code

SAN MATEO (04/28/2000) - Microsoft Corp. last week stepped up its efforts to work out the prelaunch kinks in a pair of its key Windows DNA components, releasing updated test versions of Host Integration Server 2000 and SQL Server 2000.

The latest Host Integration Server code is an update of the version released in February. The core product is essentially an upgraded and renamed release of the Microsoft SNA server.

The most significant feature of the 2000 version is that it allows users to choose which integration problem they want to solve from one server, according to Tad Parker, lead product manager for Host Integration Server 2000.

"We are different than traditional competitors because they focus on data integration, or tend to focus on transactional integration or network integration," Parker said. "What we provide is all three."

The updated beta release also allows bidirectional replication between both Oracle and Microsoft databases, Parker said. Those databases can be connected by LANs, WANs, or the Internet.

The Host Integration Server announcement was buttressed by the second beta release of Microsoft SQL Server 2000.

The newest version is Web-enabled, with support for XML, and also offers a new data-mining engine, Microsoft officials said.

"There were really three areas we were focusing on: making it Web-enabled, improving reliability and scalability, and providing faster time to market," said Jeff Ressler, lead product manager for SQL Server.

However, Dan Sholler, a senior program director at Stamford, Connecticut-based Meta Group, explained that Microsoft had a long way to go to gain customers' trust in regards to interoperability. He pointed out that Attachmate, Walker Richer and Quinn, and Computer Associates have all done better jobs with legacy systems, and boast loyal customer bases.

"One question is the ability of Microsoft to establish credit with that user community," Sholler said.

Microsoft Corp., in Redmond, Washington, is at www.microsoft.com.

Keeping an eye on the road

Microsoft's entrant in the "digital dashboard" derby hit the road last week when the software giant and partner, InfoImage, released freedom2, a corporate portal for end-users.

Digital dashboards are designed to help users work more efficiently by consolidating information from disparate data sources -- including corporate databases, ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems, and the Web -- and then presenting it in a unified desktop view, Microsoft officials said.

The product has two servers: one used to identify facts, collaborate, and make fast decisions; and the other to communicate with other servers, regardless of location, Microsoft Group Product Manager Bart Wojciehowski explained.

"So freedom2 not only effectively gathers information but it lets users analyze it, collaborate on it, and take action on it," said Randy Eckel, CEO of InfoImage Inc..

Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America, in Bridgeport, New Jersey, is using the dashboard.

"We wanted a high level of communication between persons within our dealerships. Customizing data for the end-user was a big part of that," said Jim Peary, director of Corporate Systems at Mitsubishi Fuso.

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