BackOffice 4.5 Has New Management, Deployment Features

Adding a long-awaited upgrade to Systems Management Server (SMS) and a new version of SQL Server, Microsoft Corp. announced version 4.5 of its BackOffice Suite for Windows NT.

Currently in beta testing, the suite is expected to reach general availability sometime in the second quarter, though Microsoft officials would not comment to a specific date.

The latest version of Redmond’s signature suite is designed to ease branch office and departmental server deployment. Microsoft claims the suite eases configuration by automatically detecting a network’s current configuration and recommending the appropriate component and service pack upgrades, and defaulting many common parameters, all of which reduce setup time and complexity.

BackOffice Suite also contains reusable setup scripts, a deployment wizard and branch office setup scenario. Reusable scripts enables unattended setup scripts to be generated automatically, once a standard server configuration has been established. The BackOffice Server deployment wizard allows systems managers to replicate a single server script across hundreds of servers, automatically updating machine names and settings as needed. The Branch Office setup scenario will automatically set the proper setting for remote locations, such as joining an existing Exchange server site and setting up a secondary SMS site.

Additionally, Microsoft added management consoles to the suite. Based on Microsoft Management Console (MMC), the new BackOffice Server Manager provides a single point of administration for common suite-level tasks. The Sever Manager features four consoles for help desk technicians, Web administrators, branch administrators and central IT administrators.

The suite also ships with Microsoft’s Intranet Starter Site, a tool to help customers rollout and manage a Windows Distributed Internet Applications (DNA) architecture. The starter kit includes application server components, including a Web, e-mail, collaboration, database and search server. Intranet Starter Site also has services for host integration, Internet access and desktop management.

BackOffice Server 4.5 also provides platform components to build solutions for Office 2000, which is due out sometime in the first quarter of this year. Among these are the OLAP server, code-named Plato, in SQL Server 7.0 that integrates with Excel, e-mail and collaboration functionality of Exchange Server and Outlook 2000 messaging and collaboration client; as well as a Web server for deploying Office Server extensions.

The core components included with the suite are: Windows NT Server 4.0, Exchange Server 5.5, Proxy Server 2.0, SNA Server 4.0, SQL Server 7.0, Site Server 3.0, SMS 2.0, and the Windows NT Option Pack, which includes Internet Information Server 4.0, Microsoft Transaction Server 2.0 and Message Queue Server 1.0. – Thomas Sullivan, Staff Reporter/Reviews Editor.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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