Microsoft aims to boost uptime on Windows 2003 servers

Microsoft Corp. rolled out a set of new programs and services this week aimed at bolstering the reliability of its upcoming Windows Server 2003 software which it says will reduce customers’ downtime.

The software, set to be released April 24, will be supported by an updated data centre program and new reliability service.

The support programs are aimed at strengthening the software maker’s relationship with its customers by providing expertise and tools to help them manage their systems, said Bob O’Brien, product manager of the Windows Server 2003 division.

“This is another way for customers to expand their knowledge and tap into our experience,” O’Brien said.

The Microsoft Reliability Service will monitor customers’ event data and supply reports and analysis, as well as allow customers to monitor software and hardware components within their systems and identify downtime so that they can improve system availability.

The Datacenter High Availability Program builds on the best practices of the company’s initial data centre program, launched in September 2000. Enhancements to the program include certified and pretested original equipment manufacturer (OEM) configurations and wider support centre options from OEMs, resellers and systems integrators.

The programs are meant to complement the reliability enhancements built into the Windows Server 2003 software. A few of the key software improvements, according to O’Brien, are application process isolation, application recycling and memory mirroring for fast failover of fault-tolerant servers.

Application process isolation assures that one application crash does not interrupt Web service uptime, O’Brien said, while application recycling for Internet Information Services (IIS) 6.0 prevents application and systems failure due to memory leaks in poorly written code.

Memory mirroring, which writes memory to two different areas, can reduce blackout sessions to less than a second, O’Brien said. This feature has historically only been available in very expensive or proprietary systems, he added.

The Redmond, Wash., software maker said that due to these enhancements, Windows Server 2003 had a 40 per cent reduction in unplanned system downtime in internal tests.

“The challenge we have is to continue to build products that are even more reliable,” O’Brien said.