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Network & Systems Software Product of the Year 2000

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Naysayers may still have their doubts, but readers sent a clear message that Microsoft Corp.’s new flagship server operating system has a big future. They gave first place in the Network & Systems Software category of Datamation’s Product of the Year 2000 to Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server. In fact, it was an overwhelming victory for the enterprise-class OS: It scored 48 percent of the vote, or 115 votes.

Trailing by 19 percentage points-but still just about as many percentage points away from its nearest competitor-Sun Microsystems Inc., of Santa Clara, Calif., claimed second place in the category, with 29 percent, or 70 votes, for its Sun Solaris 8 with iPlanet Web Server Enterprise Edition. Solaris 8 is the next-generation version of Sun’s UNIX operating system, while the iPlanet Web server comes from iPlanet, a Web infrastructure software joint venture between Sun and AOL Time Warner Inc.’s Netscape Communications subsidiary.

Voters had a choice of the following nominees:
Product Vendor
InCharge V4.0 System Management ARTS Inc.
Netcool Micromuse Inc.
RackBotz 300 NetBotz Inc.
Spectrum Enterprise Aprisma Management Technologies
Sun Solaris 8 with
iPlanet Web Server Enterprise Ed. 4.1  
Sun Microsystems Inc./iPlanet
Ecommerce Solutions Sun-Netscape Alliance
VitalSuite Enterprise Lucent Technologies Inc.
Windows 2000 Advanced Server   Microsoft Corp.

The strong vote for these two systems platforms-together, they had a combined total of 77 percent-left the remaining product contenders to divvy up the remaining 23 percent points. This latter group consists of more traditional network and system management software.

The third-place finisher was the Spectrum Enterprise from Aprisma Management Technologies, of Durham, N.H., with 4 percent, or 10 votes. It was followed by Vital Suite Enterprise from Lucent Technologies Inc., of Basking Ridge, N.J.; Netcool from Micromuse Inc., of San Francisco; and tying for last place with 1.67 percent, or 4 votes, InCharge V.4.0 from System Management ARTS Inc., of White Plains, N.Y., and RackBotz 300 from RackBotz Inc., of Austin, Texas.

Gerald Murphy, vice president in the Global Network Strategies Group at META Group Inc. of Stamford, Conn., says that enterprises have a strong interest in seeing that vendors make operating systems more manageable to improve total cost of ownership (TCO). “In this respect, both Microsoft and Sun have come a long way,” he says. However, he notes that Microsoft’s big push in systems is to be able to compete more with Solaris in terms of scalability and reliability.

When the Windows 2000 Advanced Server became commercially available in February 2000, users found that among the product’s many features were ease-of-use and improved manageability, according to Michel Gambier, group product manager, Windows Enterprise Servers at Microsoft of Redmond, Wash. For example, he notes that users can manage clusters remotely with both the Cluster Administrator and NLB scriptable command line interface from any networked Windows 2000 system. “Additionally, users can access and manage Cluster Service clusters as Active Directory objects,” he says.

Network and System Management Software Market Source: IDC, 2000

David Dykes, founder and CTO at InfraStream of Atlanta, Ga., an on-site provider of broadband services, says the integration of Active Directory in the Windows 2000 Advanced Server is a sweeping advance. It is also one of the product’s management features that led to the selection of this OS platform to deliver his company’s services. He notes that another strong management feature in Windows 2000 Advanced Server is the way Microsoft has embraced Internet and open standards. “This makes it easy to integrate, interoperate, and manage,” says Dykes.

According to Dykes, the company hasn’t experienced any unplanned downtime due to operating system failure in 12 months of use. InfraStream has eight Windows 2000 Advanced Server nodes and has used both pre-production and production releases. “It is truly a robust platform,” he says.

Second-place finisher Sun Solaris 8 with iPlanet Web Server Enterprise Edition was also cited for ease of management and interoperability. “The key benefit to us in using this product is that it works well with the new iPlanet infrastructure,” says Ileana Couret-Endom, a product manager at Digex Inc., a Beltsville, Md., application service provider (ASP). “It’s easy to use with application servers and provides easy connectivity to back-end servers.”

Digex began using Solaris 8 with iPlanet for its server farm last August, and its use quickly mushroomed: today, the ASP has 500 licenses.

Over the next year or so, META’s Murphy says users will see more fully integrated network management tools for networks, systems, and applications. Up until now, many of these tools were sold separately.

Additionally, he says the movement toward outsourcing all kinds of IT tasks currently handled in-house will have a profound effect on vendors and their products. Murphy says vendors will shift their network and systems software offerings, including management tools, toward service providers, rather than enterprises.

Lynn T. Haber reports on business and information technology from Norwell, Mass. She can be reached at lthaber@mediaone.net.

Links to all Product of the Year 2000 articles:

The Internet on Overdrive

Application Development Product of the Year 2000

Client Systems-Desktop, Client Systems-Mobile Product of the Year 2000

Data Warehousing & Business Intelligence Product of the Year 2000

E-commerce & Extranets Product of the Year 2000

Enterprise Applications Product of the Year 2000

Network Infrastructure Product of the Year 2000

Security Product of the Year 2000

Servers Product of the Year 2000

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