Microsoft has released the first version of its Application Centre 2000 (AC2000) server software for managing web server farms and groups of application servers.
The product pulls together a number of middleware infrastructure components, such as Microsoft's object plumbing, data access, message queuing and component load balancing technologies, in a single bundle.
Paul Flessner, senior vice president of .Net enterprise servers at Microsoft, said that AC2000 is a key part of the company's .Net initiative.
"As we move towards the .Net vision and a web services economy, AC2000 provides the manageability to scale out solutions, tipping the balance away from 'big-iron' servers and making this new architecture the best alternative for today's web applications and tomorrow's web services."
The software giant's .Net server software strategy will compete with alternatives such as Hewlett Packard's e-Speak and IBM's WebSphere platforms.
Web services is an emerging market for software that simultaneously performs such tasks as processing orders while checking credit, providing insurance and arranging shipping. The market is still in its infancy, but analysts said it will have a huge bearing on the way future applications are developed and deployed.
Dan Kusnetzky, an analyst at IDC, explained that web-based applications have different requirements and act differently from traditional applications.
"It is not acceptable for them to appear to either slow down or become unavailable," he said. "A reliable and available web-based application means less work for administrators and both a measurable saving and a successful implementation to chief executives."
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