I could do it. But we both know you’re hoping I don’t. It’s the very last column of 2005, so tradition says we should either talk about “The Top 10 Microsoft Somethings of 2005,” or I should skip straight ahead to “The Top 10 Microsoft New Somethings of 2006.”
Forget it. We’re not doing that. If you really, absolutely want to read Oliver’s Microsoft Predictions for 2006, then e-mail me, and if enough folks ask, I’ll write it for next week. Meantime, there’s too much good stuff to giggle about without requiring any conjecture at all.
Yes, Microsoft hasn’t been idle during the holiday season -- they’ve been working on security again. Really working. The result is several new documents, two of which are basically in-depth interview-style reports; the other two are more formal in-depth guides. The reports concern two articles published by Redmond about how Microsoft’s IT department has improved security using Microsoft products.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Sure they use Microsoft products. I bet they have a whole bunch of Unix servers in a secret cave beneath the Redmond Starbucks that really run things.” That’s what you’re thinking.
Well, I’ve been up there and talked to Microsoft IT, after signing my name in my own blood promising never to speak of specifics regarding that interview or the datacenter tour that followed.
Turns out, Microsoft’s got a hell of a NOC -- and it wasn’t even its flagship NOC, but an older NOC that's now a backup operation to the primary one. I don’t rate high enough to tour the primary NOC, where I would have been frisked, violated in my nether regions, and subsequently shot simply for walking through the door.
But even without the flagship experience, one thing was obvious: Microsoft eats its own dog food. I know this because they kept repeating it to me like some pre-Kool-Aid mantra. From the PR folks to the IT managers down to the IT workers, everyone said it: “We eat our own dog food.” I was going to make the gourmet Alpo crack, but I managed to hold my tongue.
Meantime, the tour showed pretty much beyond a reasonable doubt that Microsoft does run its 20,000-plus node, international network on 99 percent Windows technology, including servers, workstations, and edge security. (I’m hedging on that last 1 percent in case some starved whistle-blower covered in torture welts stumbles out of Redmond next week clutching a 1U running Debian.)
It’s the edge security bit that was the focus of Microsoft IT's announcement about this past Saturday. As Santa was hitching up his sleigh, Redmond posted a document discussing how Microsoft IT has made significant remote access security improvements using new Microsoft technology. Or should I say “technologies”? Because once you're all up in that doc, the sheer amount of new product CDs being thrown around could have decorated my tree.
This latest generation of Microsoft security products -- all of which was required to make the remote access improvements -- goes like this: Windows Server 2003, Internet Authentication Service, Internet Security Accelerator 2004, Microsoft Operations Manager 2005, SQL Server 2000, Public Key Infrastructure & Certificate Services, and Connection Manager. Hey, if Santa got into Bill’s chimney, that much stuff should have alerted U.S. Homeland Security.