Invitation only

Windows Server 2008 - Microsoft's latest effort on its path to world server domination - is scheduled for release by the end of 2007. But before this the vendor needs to push the system to its limits - hence its invitations to three regional enterprises to run advance pilot projects.

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By  Eliot Beer Published  August 25, 2007

While much of the glamour around datacentres rests on the serious-looking hardware that goes into it - not to mention a facility that looks like something from a certain type of science fiction movie - the software that runs on the kit is equally - if not more - important.

The move to x86 server architecture has arguably transformed much of the processing power of a datacentre to the level of a commodity - albeit a very significant commodity. But the choice of software platform can make or break a company's IT systems.

Although the field has thinned, there are still plenty of contenders for the server O/S crown - Unix and its variants hold steady, while the open-source Linux systems continue to build on an already strong user base.

And then there's Microsoft Windows Server; unlike its desktop brethren, Windows Server is not the ubiquitous O/S for the server space. Microsoft's lingering image problem within some of the more technical areas of the IT community doesn't help, but the real battle is between Windows and the big beast of Unix.

This is a battle Windows appears to be winning, though. Research from IDC shows that, as of the first quarter of 2007, Windows Server took US$4.8 billion of the global server market, a 38% share of spending. In comparison Unix took 31% of the market by spend, while Linux came in at 12.7% of spend, growing at 10% year on year.

Despite Linux's strong growth, Windows Server surpassed the open-source system with 10.4% on the year before - the first time Windows has beaten Linux for growth since 1998, when IDC started tracking Linux sales, according to the research company.

We wanted assurances from Microsoft that all support would be forthcoming to ensure this project will be a complete success.

So far so good, then, for Microsoft's efforts to conquer the demanding server market. The next step for the vendor will be the move to Windows Server 2008, following on from the 2003 variant currently available. The Redmond firm expects to release Server 2008 in the second half of 2007 - in practice, industry observers expect the O/S to appear late in the half.

Server 2008 is currently at the Beta stage, with Beta 3 just released to the public. While techies around the world will be pushing the system to the limits, Microsoft is also engaging in its own more rigorous programme of testing.

A critical component of this is running the O/S in live test sites. Microsoft has invited around 200 of its global customers to take part in pilot testing of Server 2008, including three from the Middle East. The regional organisations - Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) in the UAE, Agility in Kuwait, and Oman Mobile - are all now in the proof-of-concept phase of testing.

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