In the early days of Windows NT 3.5 and Microsoft BackOffice Server, you could know everything—or at least, everything that was important—about the OS. But that's certainly not the case today. As Windows Server has grown to handle the needs of the enterprise, it has added an array of features, from enterprise management tools such as Active Directory (AD) and Group Policy, through storage management technologies such as Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS), to advanced support for 64-bit hardware and Non-Uniform Memory Access (NUMA) memory addressing.

As each Windows Server product has grown, the number of related third-party tools has also expanded. In the decade since NT took root in businesses everywhere, an entire ecosystem of extensions has developed around Windows Server and the other members of the Windows Server System family, such as Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft SQL Server. Some third-party add-ons make using the features in Microsoft's family of products easier; others extend those capabilities into completely new areas. In our Summer issue of Windows & .NET Magazine, we give you a guide to the community of third-party add-ons that surrounds the Windows Server family of products.

A Guided Tour of the Ecosystem
In "Beef Up Exchange with Add-On Software," Paul Robichaux takes you through an important subset of Exchange add-ons. In addition to surveying the field of backup and recovery products, Paul looks at antivirus and antispam products and document-management software.

SQL Server 2000 includes tools for basic database development and management. However, in today's complex implementations, those basic tools might not meet all your needs. In "Pump Up SQL Server 2000," I dive into the set of third-party products that you can use with SQL Server 2000.

Debra Littlejohn Shinder and Thomas W. Shinder cover add-ons to Microsoft's enterprise-level network firewall and Web-caching server. Among the products that Debra and Thomas discuss in "Improving on ISA Server," you'll find tools that provide enhanced site blocking and Web filtering, application-aware high availability and bandwidth control, and support for two-factor authentication.

Debra also discusses a less well known member of the Windows Server System family. Her overview of Microsoft Identity Integration Server (MIIS) 2003 in "Extending MIIS 2003 Functionality," mentions some products that improve MIIS's password management and cross-platform integration capabilities, among others.

In "Third Parties Enhance Microsoft's Systems Management Efforts," Ed Roth gives a rundown of Microsoft's enterprise systems management strategy. Then, he explores enterprise network and systems management tools from the so-called "big four" vendors before moving on to tools that enhance Windows' functionality and niche products that target specific areas of systems management.

Similarly, in "Building On to SharePoint Products and Technologies," Kevin Laahs explains the architecture and functionality of Microsoft's collaboration offerings. Noting that the base products can't meet every need, Kevin then looks at three common deployment concerns and some add-ons and extensions that can help alleviate them.

Every business needs to manage storage, and Microsoft wants to help by making Windows the ideal networked storage platform. In "The Windows Storage Ecosystem," Mark Smith provides a bird's-eye view of where Windows Storage Server is today and where it's going.

Finally, in "Get More from Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2003," Kieran McCorry provides an overview of Live Communications Server. Although it's one of the best IM solutions available, Kieran notes that Live Communications Server has shortcomings and surveys products that can make up for them.

Adding Value to the Server Products
Third-party products add value and functionality to the Microsoft server products you already own. In this issue, you'll find a wealth of information about third-party add-ons that will make your job easier and help you do it more effectively.