Microsoft unveils systems architecture guidelines

Microsoft has announced a systems architecture program that aims to help companies reduce the costs, time and risks associated...

Microsoft has announced a systems architecture program that aims to help companies reduce the costs, time and risks associated with integrating Windows 2000 Server into corporate computing environments

The Microsoft Systems Architecture (MSA) for Internet Data Center is the first in a series of "prescriptive architecture guides" that the software maker plans to make available in conjunction with hardware and software partners.

The guides are designed to provide a blueprint and documentation for a hardware and software configuration that has been lab-built and tested to work in a Windows 2000 environment.

Don Thompson, lead product manager for Microsoft Systems Architecture, said to get the "MSA-qualified" logo, MS partners are required to test and document their own implementations of Microsoft's generic blueprint. They also need to offer support and services.

Thompson said the documentation is provided free, although users will need to buy the products, support and services from the individual vendors involved. But that process is eased by the fact that customers receive guidelines and a bill of materials listing the various pieces needed for the implementation, he said.

"The prescriptive architecture guideline then becomes the cookbook for putting all the technologies together," Thompson said, estimating that a customer could complete an implementation in two or three days.

"This broadly fits what has become a fairly significant industry trend to do a fair amount of pretesting and preintegration of components among partners," said Dwight Davis, an analyst at Boston-based Summit Strategies.

"And the basic theme is on target in that customers really want to see vendors working together and doing the work of integration and performance assurance before they ship their products," he added.

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