When we step back and analyze exactly what BackOffice Server (BOS) 2000 provides, we can see how Microsoft has structured it. At the foundation, you'll find Microsoft Server Application and Windows Components. Because Active Directory (AD) is the basis for much of BOS 2000's management and inter-application activity, Windows 2000 Server is the primary structural component at this level. As a key component of Win2K Server, Microsoft IIS is also considered a central foundation element. Layered on top of Win2K server is the complete set of application server products necessary to build a multifunction environment.

Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2000 (the upgrade to Proxy Server 2.0) provides network security via firewall and caching services. Host Integration Server (the upgrade to SNA Server) handles IBM midrange, mainframe, and UNIX host connectivity. Systems Management Server (SMS) 2.0 Service Pack 2 (SP2)—the upgrade to, well, nothing; it's the current version of SMS—handles desktop management. SQL Server 2000 (the upgrade to SQL Server 7.0) handles fundamental database issues and more complex data warehouse/data mart applications. And Exchange 2000 Server (the long-awaited upgrade to Exchange Server 5.5) handles the messaging and collaborative tasks.

The set of Suite Value Added Features sits on top of these basic BackOffice components. The suite contains some features found in all versions of Win2K Server, such as Terminal Services-based Remote Administration, and some features unique to BOS 2000, such as the Shared Fax and Shared Modem communications services. This level also contains the BOS Server Management Console and Server Management Wizards, the Server Start Page and To-Do Lists, and Health Monitor 2.1. Finally, this level contains the integrated scenario-based setup and planning tools, the standard Intranet Productivity Site, and three wizards to handle key setup and configuration tasks: MultiServer Deployment Wizard, BackOffice Server Deployment Wizard, and Internet Connection Wizard.

The third and last layer of the BOS 2000 suite is the selection of client tools: Internet Explorer, for Web-based applications; Outlook 2000, for email and collaborative communications; and FrontPage, for Web development. In future issues of the newsletter, I'll take you on a hands-on walk-through of the various wizards that make BOS 2000 a unique product.

BOS 2000 is designed to integrate closely with Office 2000 and its components to provide a soup-to-nuts solution for business users. When BOS 2000 ships later this year, we'll see just how well this strategy pans out.