While IBM will support Microsoft's upcoming Windows 2000 in accounts both large and small, company officials last week said Microsoft must make several improvements to the much-anticipated operating system before it works and plays well in multi-vendor corporate environments.
In briefings here, company officials said Microsoft needs to add a proven synchronisation capability to Windows 2000's Active Directory so that it works with other industry standard Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) directories.
The software maker also needs to improve the interoperability of the operating system's Kerberos with DCE Kerberos, as well as allowing the Microsoft Management Console to work more flexibly with competitive products, IBM said.
"These problems need to be addressed before Windows 2000 can smoothly be integrated into multi-vendor environments," said Pat Gibney, IBM's director of Windows 2000 Systems.
Gibney said he does not doubt Microsoft will eventually provide solutions for these problems, such as the DirSynch framework allowing it work with other LDAP directories, but these solutions will not find their way into the operating system until later versions.
While Microsoft has made progress on improving Windows 2000's symmetrical multiprocessing and clustering capabilities, Gibney said the company is not exactly pushing the envelope there in terms of performance on eight-way servers when it comes to running workloads from multiple vendors.
"I think users will be disappointed with the performance [of Windows 2000] on a single eight-way server handling mixed workloads in terms of the payback they will get," Gibney said. "But it does a good job handling loads in a homogeneous environment."
One analyst at the briefings was optimistic about Windows 2000's ability to handle some mission-critical applications, saying the product's much improved scalability, robustness, and overall performance makes it a significant advance over Windows NT 4.x series.
"I think it can be deployed for use in many mission-critical applications and be highly reliable, which is what many corporate shops place a priority on, as long as they adhere to the design and discipline as laid down by Microsoft," said Joe Clabby, a vice president at analyst Aberdeen Group.
Gibney and other IBM officials reiterated they would have a number of key enterprise-level applications that fully exploit Windows 2000 available on the first day it ships including DB2, MQSeries, Websphere, Tivoli systems management suites, and CICS.
Company officials promised that all 300-plus applications that the company has in its portfolio will "tolerate", or be compatible with, the 32-bit operating system on day one. Over the course of the first 12 to 24 months after Windows 2000 ships, all 300 or so applications will be fully exploitive.
IBM officials said it is still their expectation that Microsoft will complete the finishing touches on Windows 2000 sometime in October with a November launch at Fall Comdex likely. They do not expect the product to ship in any sort of volume until at least January.