Microsoft's promise to incorporate Tandem clustering technology into future versions of Windows NT has been given a cautious welcome.
Users and analysts alike have adopted a wait-and-see policy on the deal between Compaq and Microsoft that will allow Tandem's NotStop Kernel to be used to bolster NT's scalability and reliability in a clustered environment - but only after release of NT 5.0, as revealed in PC Week last week.
Time will be the factor that may prevent NT hitting its target market of high-end systems in environments such as banks and trading floors, according to Graham Langford, data centre manager with the United Bank of Switzerland. "The Tandem code will be extremely useful to Microsoft.
There are big problems in trying to move from Unix to NT and this would give me more confidence that it can be done - but it is a question of how long it will take. NT 5.0 won't ship until later next year and won't be deployed until after the millennium. Meanwhile, Sun is pushing hard with its version of Unix (Solaris) and its own 64bit architecture."
Paul Mason, vice president for infrastructure software research with IDC, said practical implementation of this technology in NT is still some way off.
"Microsoft has managed to pursuade people that NT is enterprise-ready but this is a complete dream, at least in the sense that real IT people think of enterprise," he said. "This announcement is intended to make users more comfortable about their decision to standardise on NT. They know it will be fraught with difficulty, but it has been driven by top level management."
Bob Sibly, project manager with the Halifax in the UK was encouraged by the promise of greater scalability of NT. "We need highly scalable NT systems," he said, "but, at the moment, we will stick with Unix for our most vital IT systems because of its reliability. It would be impressive if they could demonstrate effective clustering on NT but, even so, for large databases I would still look to Unix. Microsoft always makes claims about how scalable NT will be and we just have to wait and see what this alliance brings."
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