Microsoft Chairman and CEO Bill Gates began Scalability Day today with a keynote speech in which he asserted the dominance of Windows NT over UNIX for the most demanding business applications. Citing improved scalability and far lower costs, Gates said that the days of proprietary hardware and "big iron" are over.

"Any business of any size can now run its enterprise applications on Microsoft software and industry-standard hardware," said Gates. "Combining enterprise-class scalability with PC-industry volume economics will radically reshape the enterprise markets. The ongoing R&D investments by Microsoft and the industry will provide our customers still greater levels of scalability, interoperability, availability and manageability in the future."

Microsoft announced BackOffice Server 4.0 Enterprise Edition as well, which includes the new Windows NT Server, Enterprise Edition. This new version extends NT's scalability with support for larger SMP servers and more application RAM. It also comes with Microsoft Transaction Server and Microsoft Message Queue Server software built-in.

Some of the demonstrations that occurred today include:

  • One billion transactions per day: A benchmark demonstrating that a system consisting of Windows NT Server 4.0, SQL Server 6.5, and Microsoft Distributed Transaction Coordinator is capable of over one billion transactions in 24 hours. The hardware included four Pentium Pro microprocessors, 512MB of RAM, and 40 hard disk drives.
  • One terabyte of image data stored in SQL Server: This demo included a SQL Server database containing satellite imagery of the urban world as seen from space. The database has over 50 million records.
  • Massive email support: A single Digital Alpha-based server running Exchange Server supports over 50,000 Internet mail boxes, more than twice the size of the largest known system on a single-node mainframe.
  • Internet Information Server, running on a dual Pentium Pro system, has withstood over 100 million hits in a single day. This represents more traffic than the busiest sites on the Web, including C-Net, ZD-Net, and Sun.
  • Windows NT 5.0 and SQL Server 7.0 (code-named "Sphinx") will support 64-bit memory for dramatic increases in performance (up to 1700%).
The most amazing thing about all this, of course, is that it is being done with systems based on personal computers. "PC performance is improving at an incredible rate," Gates said. "The work done by Digital and Intel have given us engines to take a strong role on the desktop and move and be the highest volume servers out there. What it means for customers are high volume standard servers that give them lots of choices, and as they add servers they can mix and match."

Acceptance of NT in the Enterprise is a primary goal for Microsoft. While many system administrators are adopting a wait-and-see attitude, it is only a matter of time before Microsoft makes serious inroads into this market