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Microsoft aims roadmap at reducing IT complexity

Jun 02, 20034 mins
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Microsoft Monday opened its annual TechEd conference refuting recent arguments that IT doesn’t matter any longer by offering a roadmap of products targeted at ensuring that it does.

DALLAS – Microsoft Monday opened its annual TechEd conference refuting recent arguments that IT doesn’t matter any longer by offering a roadmap of products targeted at ensuring that it does.

The company paraded a handful of new technologies, but mostly it outlined Microsoft’s future platform to support Web services, which it said would reduce IT complexity and foster new corporate innovation.

A recent article by Harvard Business Review concluded that IT doesn’t matter any longer because it cannot provide a source of competitive advantage – that is, companies all have access to the same technology. Microsoft scoffed at the notion, saying software enables a business to be effective.

To make its point, Microsoft introduced the first beta of BizTalk Server 2004 and said the final code would ship by the end of the year. The price of the developer edition has been slashed from $499 to $49. The BizTalk server is the first step toward Microsoft’s “Jupiter” application integration platform aimed at taking on BEA Systems, IBM and others. Jupiter is a combination of BizTalk Server, Content Management Server and Commerce Server.

Microsoft also said the “Yukon” version of SQL Server would now be delivered in the second half of next year instead of the first.

“We want to do more work,” said Paul Flessner, vice president of the Windows division for Microsoft. “So we have pushed back a bit and will offer the first public beta this summer.” The first Yukon beta was expected this month.

Flessner offered few details for the delay. Yukon is expected not only to anchor the next version of SQL Server but also a next-generation universal file system that will stretch across the Windows platform.

Flessner also introduced the Windows Storage Server, the evolution of the company’s Windows Powered Network Attached Storage, which is only available to OEMs building storage appliances. The Storage Server will not be available as a separate product, but it is the first step toward the Yukon-based universal file system.

“The potential of IT is unlimited, and it will always be unlimited,” said Flessner. Software enables business effectiveness, he said. “If you stagnate you die in this business of IT.”

Microsoft users likely won’t be standing still in the coming year with the slate of product releases that Flessner outlined.

“The next year to year-and-a-half is an important one for Microsoft,” says Dana Gardner, an analyst with the Yankee Group. “They are starting an upgrade cycle that will allow them to put in the enterprise platform for Web services.”

Flessner also introduced SQL Server Reporting Services, which allows users to extract information from the database and present it as a report to any device. A beta is expected to be available this fall.

Microsoft also shipped the first release candidate of Exchange Server 2003, which is expected to be available this fall.

For 2003-2004, Flessner mapped out other product releases or betas that will ship including the next version of Visual Studio.Net code-named Whidbey, SharePoint Portal Server, Office 2003, Project Server and Real-Time Communications Server (RTC), and System Center, a bundle of Systems Management Server and Microsoft Operations Manager.

In 2005, products slated to ship are the Longhorn desktop OS, a version of Visual Studio.Net code-named Orcas and the Jupiter suite. Also on the slate is a new version of Office coupled with Longhorn, and the 2.0 release of RTC Server.

In 2006, the lineup includes the next version of the Windows Server OS, a version of Exchange code-named Kodiak that is built on SQL Server, and the first integrated version of System Center.

The TechEd conference runs through Friday.