Microsoft's first generation of .NET servers is finally here, bolstering the Windows 2000 platform with new functionality that extends far beyond that of the previous generation of Microsoft BackOffice products. Dubbed .NET Enterprise Servers, the lineup includes SQL Server 2000, Exchange Server 2000, BizTalk Server (BTS) 2000, Application Center 2000, Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2000, Commerce Server 2000, Host Integration Server 2000, and a new addition—Microsoft Mobile Information 2001 Server. Microsoft Senior Vice President Paul Flessner now leads the new .NET Enterprise Server Division.

The first .NET server product Microsoft released was SQL Server 2000, which the company completed in August 2000. SQL Server 2000 featured an Early Adopter Program, which involved a select group of customers who used the server on production sites during the 6 months leading up to the server's release. As part of the Rapid Deployment Program (RDP), more than 100 enterprise customers went live on SQL Server 2000 within 3 months of the product's release to manufacturing (RTM), giving the product an unprecedented level of customer commitment. SQL Server 2000 will supply the back-end data management solution for an upcoming wave of Web-enabled applications and services.

Other .NET Enterprise Servers saw similar levels of use before release. Microsoft deployed its messaging and collaboration server, Exchange 2000, internally before it released the product to manufacturing. Mike Huber, general manager of Microsoft's Messaging and Collaboration Services Group, said that Exchange 2000 is more than just email. "If you look at how we viewed Exchange in the past, it was primarily email," Huber said. "But when we looked at Exchange 2000 and the types of things it enables, we decided to organize more broadly around messaging—both email and voice messaging—as well as collaboration services. So to email we add things like instant messaging, conferencing, and unified messaging."

Of all the .NET server products, BTS 2000 is possibly the most centered in the .NET world and the most confusing to existing BackOffice customers. Aiming to coordinate Internet-based business solutions, BTS 2000 combines enterprise applications integration (EAI), business-to-business (B2B) integration, and the BizTalk Orchestration technology in one product. This combination should help developers, IT professionals, and business analysts more easily build dynamic business processes over the Internet. To facilitate this feature set, BTS 2000 offers a variety of tools (some based on the Microsoft Visio product family) and a technology infrastructure.

Application Center 2000 uses a feature called software scaling to increase Win2K applications' capacity. Software scaling supports expansion by using off-the-shelf servers rather than specialized hardware; Application Center simplifies this process with an easy-to-use interface. Using Application Center, you can create and monitor server clusters, add new servers to those clusters, and deploy and manage distributed applications that don't need to understand the underlying clusters. Microsoft claims that Application Center's clustering capabilities eliminate a single point of failure and lower costs and complexity by providing a simple interface for software scaling.

ISA Server 2000 replaces Microsoft Proxy Server 2.0 and offers true firewall functionality, providing better security and faster Web access speeds than Proxy Server does. Host Integration Server 2000 is the follow-up to Microsoft SNA Server and provides application, data, and network integration with legacy servers. Commerce Server 2000 builds on Site Server 3.0 Commerce Edition, providing a sophisticated end-to-end environment for online businesses. The new Microsoft Mobile Information Server facilitates integration with cell phones and other mobile devices.

Although Microsoft seems to have been downplaying Win2K in its haste to promote the .NET strategy, Win2K is a prerequisite for these server products, which will form the backbone of the .NET infrastructure. So, even as Win2K's sales during fall 2000 lagged far behind Windows NT 4.0 sales for fall 1999, the company rolled out a slew of server products that rely on Win2K. (For detailed information about individual .NET Enterprise Servers, see "Related Articles in Previous Issues.")

Related Articles in Previous Issues
You can obtain the following articles from Windows 2000 Magazine's Web site at http://www.win2000mag.com.

SEAN DAILY
"Microsoft's Stellar ISA Server," October 2000, InstantDoc ID 15477
TONY REDMOND
"Exchange 2000 Server over Active Directory," September 2000, InstantDoc ID 9666
TAO ZHOU
"Microsoft Application Center 2000," page 61, InstantDoc ID 15829
"Microsoft's BizTalk Initiative," September 2000, InstantDoc ID 9649