Welcome to a special edition of Windows & .NET Magazine. You've come to expect that each month we'll deliver editorial content that helps you solve problems, plan for technological change, and evaluate products. This Summer Annual issue, which features alternatives and add-ons to Microsoft business servers, is different from a regular issue of Windows & .NET Magazine—you won't see our usual columns and how-to articles. Rather, our authors have taken a wide-ranging yet razor-sharp look at third-party tools that can help make your job easier, and we put a wealth of product information at your fingertips.

We asked this issue's authors to concentrate on a particular server or set of servers in Microsoft Windows Server System (formerly Microsoft .NET Enterprise Servers), which includes servers for e-business, data management and analysis, messaging and collaboration, security, and management. But rather than offering an in-depth look at the Microsoft solutions, each article covers significant third-party products in areas that we believe are of greatest interest to you. For example, Michael Hotek's "Essential SQL Server Tools" focuses not on Microsoft SQL Server but on add-on tools that offer capabilities beyond those that SQL Server provides. Other articles in this issue cover third-party add-ons or alternatives for Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS), Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM), and Application Center 2000; Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server; Mobile Information Server; Content Management Server, Commerce Server, and BizTalk Server; Exchange 2000 Server; and SharePoint Products and Technologies.

Drill Down into the Issue
If you're looking for ways to ease system management, Ed Roth's "Enterprise Management Options" can help. Ed examines the upper echelon of management products and also takes a look at niche add-ons that provide essential functionality to your management implementation.

In "Extending ISA Server," Roger A. Grimes notes that ISA Server is a formidable network security product. Roger looks at third-party products that enhance performance, ease monitoring and administration, and improve or add security features to the Microsoft solution.

If you're in the market for a Wireless Application Gateway (WAG), Steve Milroy suggests in "Mobile Information Server 2002 and Other WAGs" that your best bet is to look for a WAG that supports multiple devices, data sources, and connectivity options. Although Mobile Information Server is a solid WAG, it doesn't support many devices and lacks some administration capabilities.

In "Third Parties Add Value to Microsoft's E-Business Servers," Michael Otey notes that the rising popularity of e-business and the Microsoft e-business servers (i.e., BizTalk Server, Commerce Server, Content Management Server) has spawned a growing market of add-ons, utilities, and services. Michael looks at tools that extend the native capabilities of the Microsoft e-business servers by adding new features that let you administer the servers more easily and work with them more productively.

Paul Robichaux, in "Exchange Add-Ons," declares that recognizing the original Exchange Server 4.0 feature set in the wealth of functionality that Exchange 2000 includes can be difficult. To draw the most functionality from Exchange and make it do what you want it to do, you might need to investigate third-party add-ons. A thriving market exists for third-party products that fill in the gaps in Exchange. Paul offers suggestions for choosing the right product for your needs.

In "SharePoint Utilities and Add-Ons," Lee Wolfe explains that SharePoint technology has proved to be a valuable collaboration solution for the business world, and that the solution becomes even more attractive with strong enhancement and add-on support from third-party vendors. Lee examines products that expand the capabilities of SharePoint technology by adding new features and workflow functionality while simplifying site administration.

Find the Solution You Need
This issue of Windows & .NET Magazine will help you quickly identify the third-party solutions you need to streamline administration, improve performance, or add capability to a variety of Microsoft business servers. We've also made available the 2003 Summer Annual Online Vendor Directory, to help you quickly find contact information for the products we mention in this issue. To access the directory, go to http://www.winnetmag.com and enter ID 38819 in the InstantDoc ID box.