Microsoft's ambitions to take NT 5 into the enterprise sufferedbad press. another serious setback last week as analysts predicted corporate customers would choose Unix rather than an operating system that failed to meet market expectations.
Despite predicting that NT 5 Enterprise Edition would cluster to up to 16 nodes and beyond (see PC Week, 26 May), Microsoft admitted to PC Week last week that the operating system would support failover for only two nodes, which is no improvement on NT 4 Enterprise Edition.
"This will dampen NT 5's impact on the enterprise - the question is how much?" commented Ed Thompson, senior research analyst at the Gartner Group research firm. "The top 2,000 to 3,000 companies in Europe will adopt Unix instead."
Phase II of Cluster Server, which will support up to 16 nodes, will not go into initial beta until after Windows NT 5 ships, Microsoft said. But Gartner does not expect Microsoft to ship NT 5 until "way into year 2000", following the software company's announcement last week that beta 2 for NT 5's workstation, standard server and enterprise editions will not ship until later this summer.
That Microsoft has put back Phase II indicates a need for a fundamental redesign, Thompson surmised.
Mark Hassall, Windows NT Server product manager at Microsoft, explained where the company must make improvements to Cluster Server to reach Phase II. He said more work had to be done on the quorum, which determines which nodes own the resource at a given point of time, and the load balancing, which is the redistribution of those resources when one node reaches capacity.
As a consequence, improvements would also have to be made to the administration and management tools of the operating system, he said, and to the applications that would run on top of the operating system like SQL Server and Microsoft Transaction Server.
"It's a big exercise," admitted Hassall.
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