TECH ED - Muglia details Microsoft"s Windows Server plans

Von Paul Krill

Microsoft Corp. is focused on tuning Windows Server to help businesses drive down maintenance costs and build more effective applications, said Bob Muglia, senior vice president of Microsoft"s Windows Server division, during a TechEd conference presentation in Orlando on Tuesday.

The company"s vision for Windows Server involves several staples of Microsoft"s technology, such as the company"s Dynamic Systems Initiative and the .Net distributed application platform.

"Our goal, simply put, is to build the best environment for you to run your business in," Muglia said. Microsoft includes its SQL Server database, BizTalk Server process automation software and Exchange mail system as key components in its Windows Server-based computing platform.

Muglia listed several priorities, including security, 64-bit support, and system management. No version of Unix or Linux provides an integrated management experience like Windows Server, Muglia contended. The company seeks to ensure that Windows solutions, such as SQL Server on Windows Server, will be the best for the job over an alternative such as an Oracle (Profile, Products, Articles) database on Linux, Muglia said.

To improve management, Microsoft is building "health models," which provide the status of system states. User interface improvements also are planned to simplify administration and make Windows easier to use, according to Muglia.

Microsoft in Windows Server 2003 Release 2, planned for availability this fall, will offer improvements for branch offices via its Branch Office Infrastructure Solution, he said. "Our goal long term [with branch offices capability] is to make sure that branch offices can be treated without any administration at all," so branch servers act as caches of the primary system, according to Muglia.

The Longhorn release of Windows Server, planned for 2007, will feature improvements in Active Directoryand Distributed File System to simplify management of file servers. Longhorn also will feature the IndigoWeb services subsystem and network access protection.

As part of its network access protection plan, Microsoft will use IPSec to enable designation of access policies such as enabling one set of users to have e-mail and another to get to source code, Muglia said. "It allows the network access to move to be policy-based, which is critical," he said.

Microsoft"s long-term vision for implementing policies at the end of the network will define the boundaries of the corporate network, Muglia said. "Realistically, it will take us five to 10 years to implement this vision," he said.

To boost authentication, Microsoft expects that password-based mechanisms will not suffice and systems will move to two-factor authentication, with a smart card and password or pin, or biometrics, Muglia said.

The company also continues to focus on its Active Directory service, which Microsoft says is deployed in 74 percent of enterprises. "We want to help customers still in the Novell space to move to Active Directory," Muglia said.

Active Directory Federation Services, meanwhile, is important for federation of identities, enabling provision of corporate network credentials to business partners, for example.

As part of its Windows storage strategy, Microsoft also plans to use its Distributed File System and file replication to boost caching experiences and make data available when users want it, Muglia said.