No 32-bit support will hit users, says Gartner

Microsoft’s decision to not provide 32-bit support for Exchange 12 and other products is likely to cause headaches for users, analyst firm Gartner is warning.

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By  Caroline Denslow Published  November 27, 2005

Microsoft’s decision to not provide 32-bit support for Exchange 12 and other products is likely to cause headaches for users, analyst firm Gartner is warning. In an online advisory it said the change would make typical Exchange version migrations slower and more complex. Early this month, at an IT forum held in Barcelona, Spain, Bob Muglia, senior vice president of Microsoft’s Server and Tools division, announced that some of the software giant’s upcoming products wou-ld run only on 64-bit platforms. These products include Exchange Server 12, Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003, Windows Server Longhorn Small Business Server, and Microsoft’s infrastructure solution for midsize businesses, code-named “Centro”. The newly released SQL Server 2005, Visual Studio 2005 and Virtual Server 2005 R2 are also optimised for 64-bit. “Enterprises will need to validate their readiness to deploy and support Windows Server 2003 x64 within their production environments. This will require an understanding of the subtle differences between the operating systems, as well as va- lidation of hardware support and third-party management and support tools,” Gartner warned. However, the performance improvements delivered by the change are enough to justify the migration headaches that may occur, Gartner claimed. “Exchange bottlenecks typically revolve around disk I/O performance, and Microsoft claims test results showing disk I/O improvements of up to 70%, due to larger cache sizes,” the advisory continued. According to Gartner, Microsoft’s move to 64-bit will allow Exchange 12 to leverage on much larger physical memory, thereby allowing it to deliver improved performance and reliability. Gartner also said that the software vendor’s decision to support the 64-bit platform exclusively was unavoidable. Growing performance demands from e-mail systems, specifically the need for more lower-cost storage solutions, server consolidation and additional e-mail services, such as mobile and voice support, have made the shift to 64-bit platforms inevitable, it claimed. In a future update release of the upcoming Longhorn operating system, customers will see the complete transition to 64-bit-only hardware, while still benefiting from 32-bit and 64-bit application compatibility, Muglia went on to claim.

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