Windows Server 2003 debuts in Sydney

Microsoft today launched Windows Server 2003 detailing huge cost savings for NT 4.0 users who migrate to the new platform and showcasing the results of seven Australian customers that have already deployed it.

Spruiking features, functionality and TCO numbers, Microsoft Australia managing director Steve Vamos said Windows Server 2003 deployments show customers can run their server infrastructure up to 30 per cent more efficiently than NT 4.0; deployment is 50 per cent cheaper and downtime is reduced eight-fold.

When it comes to TCO, one customer claims it will save $1 million over 12 months. DNV Australia IT manager Darren Warner said the Active Directory infrastructure is far superior to NT 4.0.

"It is saving us a huge amount of time when it comes down to software and hardware management," he said.

Admitting the launch is directly targetting NT 4.0 laggards, which the company estimates accounts for more than 50 per cent of their user base, Vamos said IT maintenance costs are eating into about 70 per cent of IT budgets and the amount of money available for new product purchases. He said Windows Server 2003 will reduce that burden by some 20 per cent.

Worley global IT manager Vito Forte said while the company was using beta 2 code the product has certainly been robust.

"Under Windows NT 4.0 we were resigned to rebooting machines on a regular basis, but since migrating to Windows Server 2003 we haven't had a problem at all. The servers have been in for over four months now and we've literally had 100 per cent uptime," he said.

Acknowledging some users are reluctant to make the shift and analysts forecasting the adoption rate at about 12 per cent over the next 12 months, Microsoft solutions marketing manager for IT Infrastructure Calum Russell said NT 4.0 users are living in a static world.

Russell expects take up to be as high as 20 to 30 per cent based on customer feedback, but was unwilling to disclose company estimates.

"It is not a matter of if, but when. I don't want to speculate on projected adoption figures but we expect the biggest uptake from NT 4.0 users, obviously Win2000 will take longer," Russell said.

He said NT users have "learnt to live with a lot of things that aren't necessary", because in a competitive enterprise it's just "not good enough". To convince IT managers to migrate, Microsoft is staging a national roadshow, which begins in Melbourne on May 1, for which more than 6000 Australian customers have already registered.

Designed to meet high-end enterprise workloads, Windows Server 2003 is the first release to support Intel Itanium 64-bit systems. Microsoft has improved Active Directory and allowed customers "to script just about everything" emphasising server consolidation and automation.

The company's Windows Server product manager, Michael Leworthy, said customers can double the number of users on a single server and consolidate applications down to a centrally managed site.

Talking about the 'sociability of apps', Leworthy said SQL, Exchange and Oracle don't always play well together and the Windows Systems Resource Manager controls how applications operate with each other.

Boral Ltd IT strategy and architecture manager, Richard Deck, said the company will reduce its server numbers by 20 per cent and anticipate "notable operational savings".

Windows Server 2003 is also central to Microsoft leveraging the .Net platform and functionality of Web Services.

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