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November 18, 2003

MS Mainframe

Last night, my new pal Steve from Richmond was telling me why XML rocks and .NET will dominate. I don't believe him, but I cannot ignore his enthusiasm. In fact, enthusiasm is all I hear about .NET and despite the fact that a lot of this comes from prior VB programmers, at least one Java wizard I know has been sold as well.

I keep holding out for UNIX dominance and have over the years. But I should know better. NT works on four way boxes with screamingly fast processors. That's more than enough to build some gnarly systems. But as Cringely suggests, there may be a trick up MS' sleeve to raise that headroom even higher.

Remember, IL ultimately makes .NET and Windows hardware independent, decreasing Microsoft's dependence on Intel and increasing its power over Intel -- the power to give and to take away. There are instances where Microsoft might want to move away from Intel. Redmond has not done a very good job of putting its software on large-scale servers, for example, largely because its hardware partner doesn't scale well. We're seeing Intel-based servers now with up to eight CPUs, but that's about it: Above eight the increased overhead means it isn't worthwhile, so we do clustering, instead. But now Microsoft is flirting with IBM precisely because IBM's Power architecture scales beautifully. If Microsoft wants to grab one of the last pools of profit it doesn't currently own -- high end corporate computing -- putting .NET on IBM's Power and PowerPC are a key.

All the promise of Beowulf is real and Linux gurus have clustered cheap CPUs to build massively parallel machines. There is probably no better example of this than Google. We know MS tried to buy Google. What better way to show off their ability to handle any compute problem than to put Google on the new MS architecture? Having failed that, MS goes to IBM. Genius. See?

Posted by mbowen at November 18, 2003 08:12 AM

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