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Microsoft RTMs 2nd Server Appliance Kit

The Server Appliance Kit (SAK) Microsoft Corp. released to manufacturing this week for OEMs to use to build Web server and Network Attached Storage appliances will be the last under Microsoft's current roadmap.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced the RTM milestone for SAK 2.0 this week at the Microsoft Windows Embedded Conference in Tokyo.

The kit will go out for OEMs to begin building systems. RLX Technologies Inc., a start-up heavy on former Compaq Computer Corp. executives, simultaneously unveiled a Web server appliance based on SAK 2.0.

"The plan right now is to fold the SAK into the Whistler Embedded Server," said Kelly Meagher, product manager for the embedded and appliance platforms group at Microsoft.

Redmond has not decided whether to use the Windows 2002 name, recently announced as the official name for the Whistler generation of server operating systems, for the embedded server.

"The SAK will be rolled into it as components within Whistler Embedded Server," Meagher said. "I don't believe there are plans to do an intermediate step."

A few months ago, Brian Valentine, senior vice president of Microsoft's Windows Division, referenced a possible new version of Windows 2002 server to go with standard Server, Advanced Server and Datacenter Server – a Web blade edition specifically for Web servers in Internet data centers.

Meagher declined to discuss how that possible new edition would fit with the Windows 2000 Advanced Server-based SAK. "It's probably too early to address that right now," she said.

The Web server/Web server appliance area is an important battleground for Microsoft. The open source duo of the Linux OS and the Apace Web server dominate overall Web server deployments, although Microsoft has the edge with secure sites, according to surveys. Several major Unix vendors have strong Web server combinations on the market as well for a premium.

Differences between version 1 and version 2 of the SAK include a turnkey Web server and NAS solution that automates the process of optimizing the operating system for those scenarios. Microsoft says the work it put into the turnkey effort will shorten system development time for OEMs.

Microsoft also added a number of ease-of-use features for IT admins who must manage the Windows-based server appliances.

"There was a very basic UI in 1.0 with three tabs," Meagher says. "It was not at all intuitive or easy to use outside of those tabs. The UI is much more fleshed out."

Meagher also pointed out that third-party plug-ins also show up as tabs in the UI. So far, Microsoft has agreements to include technology plug-ins from two vendors, W. Quinn Associates Inc. and Columbia Data Products.

Microsoft is using storage resource management technology from W. Quinn's StorageCeNTral product for real-time quota monitoring and enforcement, storage utilization reporting and screening of unwanted file types such as MP3 files.

Redmond's arrangement with CDP is for technology in its Persistent Storage Manager product for providing snapshots for file recovery and disaster recovery.

RLX, which formerly focused publicly only on the Linux operating system, calls its new server appliance the RLX System 324. Several other vendors have released server appliances based on the 1.0 version of the kit, including Compaq, Dell, IBM, Maxtor and NEC.

Related Articles:
Microsoft Offers New Detail on Embedded OS Plans
Microsoft Releases Whistler Embedded Beta 1
W2K Embedded Scrapped; Appliance Server Kits & Whistler Embedded on Tap

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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