Will Janus Open Doors for Microsoft?

Microsoft has yet to shrink wrap Windows 2000 (Win2K), but it already has its next-generation Windows NT OS, code named Janus, well under development. Janus, the Roman god of gates and doorways, is often depicted as a head with two faces looking in opposite directions. At its Fusion 99 conference in San Francisco last month, Microsoft announced that Janus, the first 64-bit version of NT, will include the next generation of Active Directory (AD) and run on Intel’s Merced chip. Janus will reportedly let users merge forests, making it easier for organizations to reorganize IT systems and easing the problems companies face when they merge with one another. Janus will reportedly offer better failover and load balancing, supporting rings of clustered servers with two data channels to shared storage. If one network adapter fails, the other will still operate. Intel has a dual network adapter board that Janus will support in this configuration. Such a feature is just the support the next generation of fibre-channel storage area networking technology needs. Microsoft is still considering the feature set for Janus, but the project design goals are widely known. The company needs to produce a product that is massively scalable, very stable, and with better heterogeneous network service support to go head-to-head with the variety of flavors of UNIX, such as Sun Microsystems’ Solaris and upcoming products from Project Monterey by IBM, Sequent, SCO, and others. According to one source, David Cutler, the project head for the original version of NT, was one of the Janus project managers. We could see Janus as early as the second half of 2000, running first on Compaq’s Alpha and then on Intel’s Merced (IA-64), when that technology becomes available. Microsoft would like to release Janus 6 to 8 months after releasing Windows 2000 Datacenter Server (Win2K Datacenter), which is 32-bit technology, with the first service pack for Windows 2000 Professional (Win2K Pro), Windows 2000 Server (Win2K Server), and Windows 2000 Advanced Server (Win2K AS) to follow shortly thereafter. Microsoft hopes Janus will compete against UNIX in the high-volume transaction processing marketplace of e-commerce and financial systems—a marketplace not yet convinced that NT is ready for prime time.

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