servers all in a row
.NET initiative professes a unified world and promises
anytime and anywhere connectivity. To live up to its promise,
Microsoft has released a range of server offerings and
solutions. Take a close look at what these solutions really
address, and how much it can do for your enterprise
on the heels of the .NET launch, Microsoft has released
eight server products. (See Box) It's interesting to note
that some of the servers, which form the core of the .NET
server group, have been derived from an earlier offering
called Back Office. Before we take a closer look at the
.NET server products, it's important to see what the .NET
framework is all about and how this server framework can
fit into your enterprise's network.
The .NET framework comprises four components. They are,
.NET enterprise servers, infrastructure and tools; .NET
services; .NET device software (Clients); and .NET user
experience. The .NET servers, infrastructure and tools
talk about the server products and Visual Studio.NET.
They can be used to build both traditional Web applications
and .NET services and applications. The .NET user experience
deals with the concept of anytime and anywhere connectivity.
.NET's primary product range features its attached products,
and includes the recently launched Mobile Information
Server 2001. An explanation of some of the servers can
throw light on the solutions they address.
1. Application Center 2000: Application Center 2000 comes
into the picture when mission-critical applications demand
reliability and scalability. It's a server farm management
tool which enables administrators to scale distributed
applications dynamically across server clusters. Scaling
can be handled while managing application server technologies,
like Internet Information Services, Active Server Pages,
COM+, and Microsoft Message Queuing service for applications
built on the Windows 2000 platform.
Enterprises can use a number of less expensive servers
and run Application Center 2000 to perform load balancing
on them. They won't need to buy large and expensive servers
to do the job. When applications are ready, enterprises
can use Microsoft Site Server to replicate its content
across a server farm. The software automatically synchronizes
Web content, registry entries, data-source names for SQL
Server, and other file-system data.
Integrated load-balancing management for web services
and ASP.NET applications. This is important because
middle-tier load balancing is very critical for n-tier
Works with third party load balancers like Cisco LocalDirector,
ArrowPoint, F5 Networks BigIP, and Alteon AceDirector.
A separate routing layer is not required for component
Doesn't require new APIs (Application Programming
Interfaces). It can be scaled to support existing
applications without re-writing or modifying.
It includes tools that monitor the cluster and its
servers. It also allows you to view performance and
event-log data for one server or the entire cluster.
Administrators can monitor applications remotely using
a browser-based console.
It has automated support for deployment of COM+ applications
and ISAPI filters.
2. Biztalk Server 2000: This seems to be the only server
receiving good reviews. The foundation of BizTalk Server
is a rules-based business document routing, transformation,
and tracking infrastructure. This infrastructure enables
companies to integrate, manage, and automate business
processes by exchanging business documents like purchase
orders and invoices among applications, within or across
short it is a business process integration product which
helps enterprises integrate applications internally and
externally. It helps enable B2B trading and business document
exchange using XML and other standards. The server could
be implemented by enterprises that use ERP applications
like SAP and want to orchestrate internal business processes
and applications. The organization may also need to exchange
documents through fax, conduct B2B document exchange securely
over the Internet, have expensive EDI (Electronic Data
Interchange), and it may want to leverage XML to do these
Secure, reliable trading partner relationships can
be quickly implemented independent of operating system,
programming model, or programming language.
Can take over the functionality of existing EDI servers
like Sterling, EAI (Enterprise Application Integration)
servers like BEA, and B2B servers like webMethods.
Supports EDI formats and has built in adaptors for
SAP, JD Edwards, PeopleSoft. It supports EDIFACT (Electronic
Data Interchange For Administration Commerce and Transport),
ANSI X12, and other EDI protocols.
Allows Business Process Orchestration where process
modeling does not require any coding and can be done
visually using Visio 2000.
Supports PKI (Public Key Infrastructure), X.509 Certificates,
S/MIME, and other leading security standards.
Supports the open XML framework specifications from
www.biztalk.org. BizTalk Framework compatible schemas
can be quickly implemented in the server to eliminate
many of the steps in ramping up a trading partner
relationship. It also supports SOAP 1.1
3. SQL Server 2000: SQL Server 2000 is a comprehensive
database and analysis solution. It has native XML support
that allows developers to retrieve data as XML, and store
XML data relationally. Other new functionalities are,
support for data mining which allows analysis of collected
relational and OLAP (OnLine Analytical Processing) data,
inclusion of click streams and purchase histories to recognize
trends and make predictions, and allow delivery of personalized
Enhanced fail-over cluster management that allows
a developer to re-install or rebuild any node in a
fail over cluster without impacting other nodes. You
can easily configure failover for replication and
distributed partition views.
Can scale SQL Server 2000 databases to SMP (Symmetric
Multi-Processing) systems with as many as 32 processors.
Has support for differential backup. This allows developers
to run backups quickly and with low server impact
by only backing up changed pages.
Multi-Instance Support: Developers can run applications
reliably in hosted scenarios with separate database
instances per customer or application.
4. Mobile Information Server 2001: This is the latest
addition to the .NET server range. Mobile Information
Server is available in two versions. One engineered for
the enterprise and the other tailored for the mobile carrier.
Both editions allow Windows and Web applications to be
mobile-enabled, securely accessed from any mobile device,
and be linked together. The Enterprise Edition is designed
for use by corporate customers, and is typically hosted
on the enterprise network next to the Exchange Server
or other corporate data servers.
the server has a major negative aspect in its performance.
The product promises to mobile-enable the existing Windows-based
applications, but does not have a WAP gateway. The carrier
edition of the server requires 7 installations of the
Scalable when used with a load balancing system like
WLBS (Windows Load Balancing Service) which is built
in to Windows 2000 Server. It distributes browse requests
and notification messages among multiple Microsoft
Mobile Information Server-based servers and provides
additional reliability. System administrators can
increase capacity by simply adding a new server.
Closely knit with other server family products especially
Windows 2000. It stores device registration, preference,
presence, and user data in the Windows 2000 Server
Active Directory service. Mobile Information Server
claims to access and retrieve user and device data
from the indexed Active Directory database quicker
than it can from a standard flat-file storage system.
Microsoft is also shipping Outlook Mobile Access,
with Mobile Information Server. Outlook Mobile Access
enables secure, real-time access to Microsoft Exchange
5.5 and Exchange 2000-based personal information management
applications like e-mail, calendaring, contacts, and
Microsoft Mobile Information Server supports a technology
called DMI (Device Mobility Interconnect). DMI sets
up a chain of device or application specific COM modules
to process objects. In a given scenario if a device
can only handle a small payload, DMI optimizes network
bandwidth and system performance by reducing the size
of the content destined for the device. The device
modules are implemented as "in-process"
COM objects that are loaded into the process space
of the DMI and can be reused as needed, allowing them
to preserve high performance and provide flexibility.
Commerce Server 2000
product is a primary component of the .NET enterprise
server range and is positioned as an e-commerce platform.
The advantage with the product is that it can fit into
the B2B and B2C scenario. It boasts of visitor personalization
and catalogue management. It has five integrated e-commerce
systems; profile system, target system, product catalogue
system, business processing pipeline system, and analytics
system. The advantage with Commerce Server 2000 is that
to jumpstart development, application developers can use
the B2C solution site and customization can be achieved
by using Visual Studio.NET with ASP.NET server-side scripting.
Easy to integrate with Biztalk Server and Host Integration
Easy administration with built in Commerce Server
Business Desk and Commerce Server Manager. Web-based
remote access allows managers access and control to
manage business operations
Business analytics system provides sophisticated decision
support and immediate feedback capabilities
Business Data Warehouse which is based on SQL server
and incorporates all site data including user profile
data, click stream usage, product data, purchase history,
campaign data, as well as legacy and external data
into a centralized repository.
Market opportunities, competitive threats, and cost containment
pressures, time to market scenario, and a whole lot of
other factors define the selection of enterprise grade
products. This was an area where Microsoft was not to
be seen. Biztalk Server 2000 and Commerce Server 2000
are potentially very compelling solutions when bundled
together with SQL Server 2000. This will be a part of
Microsoft's technical strategy and will be aimed at enterprise
solutions like e-procurement, trading partner enablement,
EAI and CRM.
Microsoft has, as part of its thinly crafted .NET strategy,
unveiled a several products, but it's clearly concentrating
primarily on Biztalk, Commerce Server and SQL Server.
The company has a lot to worry about in areas like Mobile,
Firewall, and Intranet solutions, as it has brought out
products keeping in mind its Windows 2000 platform without
getting into consumer requirements.
Bhavish Sood can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org