Jobs site Reed.co.uk has joined Microsoft's rapid deployment programme to gain early access to its next operating system release, Windows Server 2008.
Migrating its website from Windows Server 2003 to Server 2008 has enabled Reed.co.uk to make the site more responsive to users.
"We joined the rapid deployment programme for Windows Server 2008 to make sure we could tell Microsoft how Windows 2008 would work on a real website," said Mark Ridley, director of technology at Reed.co.uk.
The programme has given the jobs site access to Microsoft's engineering team for Windows Server 2008. Three Reed developers were able to work with Microsoft engineers at a conference at the supplier's US headquarters.
"We have fed a lot of information back to Microsoft in Redmond," said Ridley. "We have been able to get hold of code and have maintained a relationship with the Microsoft engineers."
Ridley said the relationship has enabled Reed.co.uk to explain to Microsoft how its products perform in a live environment. In particular, Reed.co.uk developers have gained a better understanding of how .net programming is supported on Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) 7.0.
The development team has also been highly motivated by being able to talk through issues with Microsoft, Ridley said. "It has been a fantastic opportunity, and we have been able to give real-world feedback to Microsoft."
Reed.co.uk has been able to improve the stability of its website by switching from IIS 6.0 to IIS 7.0. In time, Ridley expects to improve the bandwidth efficiency of the site by making the most of the caching and compression features in IIS 7.0.
Phil Dawson, vice-president of server research at analyst firm Gartner, said, "If you are at the cutting edge of IT, there are benefits to being on the rapid deployment programme. It gets you in the upgrade cycle early, so you can understand the product and plan how to deploy it." Dawson urged IT directors to consider the business case for deploying Windows Server 2008.