In-Depth

Serving Up the Enterprise

Microsoft’s been releasing new server products at a dizzying rate for the past year. Confused by all the choices? Let us add some clarity to your search.


A few years ago, keeping up with Microsoft’s server products was easy. You ran Windows NT Advanced Server as the operating system, SQL Server for your databases, and Exchange Server for your e-mail. Some shops went with SMS for software distribution or SNA Server (later renamed Host Integration Server) for IBM integration. And, of course, you bought it all in the convenient Microsoft BackOffice bundle.

Those days are gone, along with BackOffice itself. Microsoft’s offerings for the server room have expanded to the point where it’s hard for anyone to keep up. New server products tackle 21st-century challenges such as the need for wireless and Internet connectivity and management of server farms and workflow. If you have a need in your IT environment, chances are Microsoft has a solution.

But are all solutions created equal? In this article, we take a look at six of the new servers, giving you the lowdown on how well they work, if they’re ready for the enterprise data center, or if you should wait for more tweaking or (gasp!) look at a non-Microsoft product instead.

In this feature:

SharePoint Portal Server: Cool Tool
The Microsoft answer for finding a needle in a haystack.
By Jeremy Moskowitz

Mobile Information Server: Unfulfilled Promise
Although Mobile Information Server works well, it's too hobbled by limited interoperability with other non-WAP devices and application support. Plus, a look at Mobile Information Server 2002.
By David W. Tschanz

Content Management Server: Functionality—For a Price
Content Management Server 2001 provides a structured approach to managing Internet and intranet site content. By Damir Bersinic

Application Center 2000: Super Glue
This isn't the best known of Microsoft's .NET servers, but if you run a Web or server farm, it can be indispensible. By Chris Wolf

Commerce Server: Worth a Look
Once you get past the onerous installation requirements, Commerce Server 2000 can help make you a player in the e-business game.
By Chad Todd

BizTalk Server: Putting B2B to Work
BizTalk Server 2000 gets closer to B2B application integration.
By Robert J. Shimonski

Product, URL Price (U.S.) What Rocks What Bites
SharePoint Portal Server
www.microsoft.com/
sharepoint/
$3,999 for server; $6,999 for server, 25 CALs; • Excellent indexing capabilities
• Flexibility with Digital Dashboard
• File versioning
• Hidden costs push price up
• Lame backup, restore features
Content Management Server
www.microsoft.com/
cmserver/
$42,999 per CPU • Mature product
• Works well with Commerce Server, SharePoint Portal Server
• Problematic Setup
• Seriously expensive
• Only works with MS products
Mobile Information Server
www.microsoft.com/
miserver/
Varies from $15/seat to $75/seat depending on version • Works well with WAP devices
• Strong integration with Exchange 5.5, 2000
• Doesn't work with Palm, RIM devices
• No applications beyond Outlook Web Access
• Inherent WAP limitations
Commerce Server
www.microsoft.com/
commerceserver/
$8,499 per CPU; with SQL Server, $12,999 per CPU

• Stable, scalable
• Easy catalog management
• Starter sites make it easy to get up and running

• Heavy installation prerequisites
• Expensive for small businesses
Application Center
www.microsoft.com/
applicationcenter/

$2,999 per CPU • Centralized Event, Services monitoring
• Single console management for server, Web farms
• Nothing we can find
BizTalk Server 2000
www.microsoft.com/
biztalk
/
Standard Edition, $4,999 per CPU; Enterprise Edition, $24,999 per CPU • Strong adherence to industry standards
• Incredibly useful tools
• No more writing code to interconnect systems
• Bugs and issues in a production environment
• High price to roll out
• Lack of information on deployment
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