Microsoft says it will further bolster its presence in the enterprise in the first half of 2002 with its Windows Data Center Server Limited Edition.

Data Center server was designed to compete against Unix and other mainframe technologies,

according to the software giant, and the version will be optimized for financial, telecommunication and ISP customers. Like its previous incarnation, Windows 2000 Data Center Server, the OS will be available only through partner hardware vendors like IBM Corp., Compaq Computer Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Ltd.

Parag Suri, category manager for netservers at HP Canada, said the partner model for delivering the Microsoft enterprise OS will benefit customers because they have one point of contact for a complete solution. “”(The partner) is responsible for the solution implementation plan – co-ordinating the design, installation, implementation and certification of the entire platform,”” he said.

Suri said what customers are looking for most in a high-end OS is scalability. “”They want to be able to scale to a higher number of processors, to be able to scale to more memory, so scalability is certainly a huge requirement for customers who are looking at a high end operating system like this.”” Security is also needed, he added. Security has come to the forefront of CIO concerns, especially in the wake of Sept. 11. According to a report released last fall by Stamford, Conn.-based Meta Group, information security became the No. 1 concern for CIOs in 2001, with 91 per cent of those surveyed reporting they had been breached.

In early October, Microsoft announced an initiative called the Strategic Technology Protection Program (STPP) in an effort to help its customers secure their computer systems and maintain that security. The program will be implemented in two phases: Get Secure and Stay Secure.

The Get Secure phase involves Microsoft technical account managers and field representatives working directly with customers to ensure their networks and computer systems are operating securely. Microsoft will offer customers free technical support related to viruses and a security tool kit which includes patches and service packs that address the security vulnerabilities in Windows NT and 2000. The second phase will include new security packages made available to customers through the Windows Update Web site, with one-step security configurations. Meta Group Inc. analyst Christian Byrnes said Microsoft is a relatively young player in the high-end enterprise space, but its growing presence is inevitable. However, it faces stiff competition from tried and true enterprise solutions offered by the likes of Sun and IBM.

Regardless, said Byrnes, DataCenter Server will find a home in some enterprises, adding Microsoft is no different than other vendors at this point in its evolution as it deals with issues like security. “”Most of their competitors have had to fix these things. Most take 10 years to become secure and reliable. No one else has done better.””

In an e-mail to employees from Microsoft chairman Bill Gates leaked last month, he said the company should provide security right out of the box.

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