Microsoft's new server pitched as integrator money-saver

The release of Microsoft Corp's new server operating system is being pitched to integrators as a way to save money on fixed-price contracts.

"Systems integrators are faced with having to bid ever more contracts at a fixed price. And fixed-price contracts can be problematic when the complexity of getting the technology to run is very high," said Todd Gagorik, senior technical architect for Microsoft's government unit. "When you are bidding a fixed-price contract [for a complex system], there goes your margin. You're eating it up in having to do extra work."

On April 23, the Redmond, Wash.-based company released Windows Server 2003, the latest version of its operating system for servers, following Windows 2000 and Windows NT.

Microsoft's marketing of Windows Server 2003 focuses on its ease-of-use and stability. The operating system features new administration wizards designed to ease configuration, updated remote administration tools to speed large-scale deployments and new policy management software for finer grain control of user privileges. To enhance system stability, the company has also developed techniques to improve memory management.

All of these features, Gagorik said, can simplify system rollouts.

"With the Windows platform, the systems integrator can bring a much higher level of functionality to the customer while still be able to make money," Gagorik said.

The company is focusing its marketing efforts on shops that run large numbers of Unix-based servers. It is also pitching Windows 2003 as a replacement to its 6-year-old Windows NT Server 4.0, still widely used across government. Gagorik said replacing this operating system will become crucial for agencies over time, as newer software applications are not written for the NT environment. Also, as Microsoft has officially ended support of that operating system, newly discovered security problems will no longer be addressed by the company.

"Whether or not it is officially supported, the life cycle of Windows NT is really getting to its end from a utility point of view," Gagorik said.

To help users migrate from NT 4, Microsoft is offering the operating system in tandem with software that was developed by Connectix Corp., San Mateo, Calif., a company Microsoft purchased in February. Connectix' Virtual PC allows Windows 2003 servers to run programs that were written for operating systems, such as Windows NT. This allows end users to keep their software investments when upgrading the operating system, Gagorik said.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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