Microsoft Readies Win2K Datacenter for Defeaturing
Microsoft company officials are now saying that delivery schedule on Windows
2000 Datacenter Server is slipping, with the original commitment of "within
120 days" of Windows 2000 Professional (2/17/2000) now looking more like
a month or more beyond that. In addition to this delay, Microsoft officials
have commented that Datacenter is not presently scaling up as well as
expected. The OS version is promised to scale up to 32 processors, but
is presently only handling eight well, with 16 processors still being
scaling pretty well to eight CPUs, and we're starting to see good results
on 16," said Michel Gambier, group product manager for enterprise servers.
"We may not have 32 [processor support] done" by the ship date. But Gambier
says he's confident Microsoft will be able to offer 32-way support when
the system becomes generally available in September.
had indicated that Datacenter would be released to manufacturing in March
or April, with availability in May or June. Under current conditions,
release to manufacturing will not allow an earlier than August delivery.
The Datacenter (Win2K/DC) version of Windows 2000 has long been thought
of as Microsoft's big chance to break Unix's grip on the high-end enterprise
market segment - it has been called Microsoft's "Unix-killer" by some.
We do not believe it will "kill" Unix, but we expect Datacenter will have
a relatively strong negative effect on Unix sales. Unix (except for Linux)
has been losing market share to Windows-based OSes for some time now,
Datacenter should accelerate that trend. The features - on paper - indicate
that it will be a serious contender, even without the built-in market
share of Windows.
Microsoft actually gets the 32-CPU version really working (as opposed
to just saying it works, but planning for it to be fixed in Service Pack
1 or 2), we expect this will suppress demand slightly for Datacenter.
The greater effect will mainly be delay of demand, until such time as
MS can get it right. It is likely that Microsoft will go through at least
one more "Release Candidate" cycle before shipping the code to manufacturing.
Redmond's current "best guess" of general availability for Win2K/DC is
September (of this year), but we believe full 32-processor support will
lag that by a couple of months. Some have gone so far as to suggest that
if the manufacturing release of the full-blown version is delayed until
October or November, that the theme song change from "Start Me Up"
to "Also Sprach Zarathustra".
current concern is the scaling factor from 16 to 32 processors. Expected
performance improvement is 50%, but some vendors are experiencing as little
gain as 30%, and as much as 90+%. Significant performance boosts are key
to customers accepting the OS for larger configurations.
is touting the reliability of Win2K/DC, but their "official" testing only
requires uptime of 99.9% in a 14-day test. Microsoft calls this an "extended
period"; we question the validity of referring to two-week uptime - not
even 100% - as "extended". As a point of reference, 99.9% uptime means
a system is down for unscheduled maintenance about nine hours per year
- pretty good, certainly much better than in the past, but still needs
work. In addition, it is not clear that the results from a 14-day test
even using HALT/HASS are scalable out to a year.
do not presently believe Linux will use this particular delay to make
greater inroads into Windows' market share, because there is still no
"flagship" clustering/multiprocessor product. (The "Beowulf" clustering
solution is reasonably well known within the Linux world, but it's not
yet a "Datacenter killer".)
the wording "this particular delay": we believe Linux will generally continue
its growth curve, closing the market share gap between it and Windows
HALT = Highly Accelerated Life Testing
HASS = Highly Accelerated Stress Screening
For now, customers wanting more than eight processors (increasing to 16
- Microsoft hopes - when Datacenter is released) generally need to choose
a Unix-based system, such as those manufactured by Sun, HP, IBM, or Compaq.
The Intel-based alternative is the NUMA-Q E410 from IBM, which will house
up to 64 processors. (Ref TEC: NA
IBM's Newest NUMA-Q Server to Handle 64 Intel CPUs)
Windows-only customers, Datacenter promises to be a more reliable and
robust OS - if not at first shipment, certainly by Service Pack 1 or 2
(SP1, SP2). As with most Windows releases, we suggest that customers consider
waiting until at least SP1 before a complete changeover. The recent announcement
of the first Win2K Service Pack (or are they calling it "Service Release")
indicates that caution is often a good idea.
shops will know that Win2K generally costs less than a comparable (non-Linux)
Unix system, but should review all aspects of their operations before
making a switch.