Microsoft Delivers RC1 for W2K Datacenter Server
- By Scott Bekker
Microsoft Corp. moved a step closer to rolling out its
overdue first offering for the glasshouse today by delivering Release Candidate
1 of Windows 2000 Datacenter Server.
“We’re very close [to a final release],” said Michel
Gambier, group product manager of enterprise server marketing at Microsoft. “We
do not anticipate a long time between RC1 and Release to Manufacturing.”
Datacenter Server is the fourth and final version of Windows
2000, and the only version which has no precursor in the Windows NT 4.0 family
of operating systems.
In a distribution method unique among Microsoft software
products, Datacenter Server will be sold only through hardware manufacturers.
The OS will come preloaded on complete systems certified by Microsoft.
The strict certification program is part of the Windows
Datacenter Program, which is designed to ensure that demanding enterprise
datacenter managers get a reliable and fully tested system.
RC1 of Datacenter Server went out to the participating
hardware manufacturers and customers in Microsoft’s Joint Development Program,
a group of about 20 customers including Credit Suisse First Boston, Abbey
National and Data Return. Between JDP customers and beta customers who obtain
their code through the OEMs who provided their systems, Gambier says the test
group includes a few hundred customers.
The Windows Datacenter Program may be the most important
feature of Datacenter Server. Through its coordinated control of changes and
single-point-of-contact support for enterprise customers, the program
represents an attempt to ease fears among systems management professionals
leery of Microsoft’s reputation as an up-from-the-desktop vendor of products of
questionable reliability. Only systems capable of supporting at least eight
processors will be eligible for certification.
Hardware members of the Datacenter Program include Bull,
Compaq Computer Corp., Data General, Dell, Fujitsu-Siemens, Hitachi,
Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM Corp., NEC Corp., Stratus Computer and Unisys Corp.
Earlier this week, Compaq was the first to square away all the business
partnership documents and support infrastructure preparations to be certified
as ready for the Windows Datacenter Program.
New features in Windows 2000 Datacenter Server include
support for up to 32 processors, a feature Unisys managed to demonstrate June
15 with its new ES7000 server, up to four-node failover clustering, and up to
64 GB of RAM using Intel’s 36-bit extensions.
Gambier says two or three vendors are in line to have
four-node cluster configurations certified shortly after RTM of Datacenter
RC1 follows the Beta 2 version of Datacenter Server, which
came out May 23. Microsoft had initially planned to release Datacenter Server
within 60 days of Windows 2000. That timetable eventually stretched to 120
days. As the 120-day deadline of June 17 passed, the delivery timetable became
summer. RC1 is expected to be the only release candidate before RTM.
Gambier says the earliest systems will be ready is about
three weeks after RTM. To ship a system, hardware vendors must run a two-week
stress test with the final code to prove the system is ready. – Scott Bekker
Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.