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  1. Technology
January 28, 1998


By CBR Staff Writer

Digital Equipment Corp has had its reward for getting into the NT services business earlier than just about anyone else by winning the first Worldwide Prime Integrator agreement from Microsoft Corp for both NT and BackOffice products. And in a major expansion of the deal, DEC has agreed to a whole series of collaborative development projects in league with Microsoft, including support for new 32 and 64 processor high-end systems using the Alpha chip. In attendance at the announcement held in San Francisco yesterday, were Microsoft chairman and chief executive officer Bill Gates, DEC chief executive officer Bob Palmer, and squeezed in at the last minute, John Rose, senior vice president of the Enterprise Computing Group at DEC’s proposed new parent Compaq Computer Corp, who professed himself fully in support of the expanded agreement. Although the original deal was said to have been spurred on by threats from DEC that it would otherwise sue Microsoft over the similarities between Windows NT and DEC’s VMS operating system, both companies appear to have done well out of the deal, with DEC now boasting that it has 2 million Microsoft Exchange seats signed up under contract; a substantial proportion of the Exchange user base, and far more, for instance, than Hewlett-Packard Co, which signed its own NT deal with Microsoft a year or so later. Being Prime Integrator means that customers have a single point of contact, through DEC. Marketing collaboration will take place in three main areas. First, it will build up enterprise infrastructure around the forthcoming Windows NT Server 5.0 and SQL Server 7.0 products on both Intel and Alpha platforms; provide integration tools such as its AllConnect tool for Unix integration with NT Server and BackOffice; and push NT Workstation into the engineering, CAD and media content creation markets. Second, it will help Microsoft extend the Exchange product line in the area of collaborative computing, also adding batch and process management utilities. And third, it will push sales of joint DEC-Microsoft internet products using BackOffice, Microsoft Internet Information Server and Microsoft Site Server on DEC hardware.

New hardware architecture for NT

As for technology collaboration, DEC says it’s already working on a revolutionary new hardware architecture that will enable NT to scale up to 32 processor and 64 Alpha chip symmetrical multi- processors and beyond, also supporting Very Large Memory. It anticipates ten-fold performance increases in database and internet applications. The first of these should be out early in 1999 says DEC. Bob Palmer said it was too early to say how technologies from Compaq’s Tandem acquisition might fit in with this. We’re not looking at our competitor’s technology yet and they are still our competitors until the agreement is finalized, he said. DEC also plans to be first out with 64-bit systems running with NT 5.0 and SQL Server, and said that it would help Microsoft add resource sharing on top of Microsoft Cluster Server. Specifically for Alpha systems, the two said they would integrate DEC’s FX!32 translation and emulation technology into NT itself; work on a single programming model and API for 64-bit applications running on both Intel and Alpha chips to ensure source code compatibility; and work on native Alpha versions of applications development tools such as Visual Studio. On the services side, DEC, which already has more Microsoft Certified engineers than Microsoft itself, says it will double that number from 1,600 to 3,000 by the end of 1999, with at least half certified on SQL Server and the others focusing on Microsoft Exchange and internet technologies. Gates said that the Prime Integrator agreement would not remain exclusive to DEC, but that at the moment they were way beyond what anyone else has achieved.

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