Products, Applications and Tips for
Government Users

by Richard W. Walker

DNA products are on the way

FOIAXpress from AINS Inc. lets agencies receive, manage and respond to FOIA requests electronically.

Microsoft Corp. is revving up to launch seven new server products that collectively will make up Windows 2000 DNA, or Distributed InterNet Architecture, the company's platform for building Web applications.

The first two products, SQL Server 2000 and Exchange 2000, will be released by the end of the summer, said Barry Gosse, Microsoft's group manager for Windows DNA.

The DNA architecture evolved from a collection of Web components for Windows NT 4.0 to a fully integrated Web application infrastructure built into Windows 2000, Gosse said.

At the Marine Recruiting Center in Fort Belvoir, Va., information technology managers are using Windows DNA components to build the Marine Corps Information Supporting System, which will provide data on Marine recruits via the Web to about 1,000 recruiting officials around the country.

'DNA architecture was the logical choice because of the cost and reliability and because we were already running NT,' said Maj. Michael Asmus, deputy director of IT for Marine recruiting.

Company launches tool to speed FOIA compliance

AINS Inc. of Rockville, Md., has launched an online system for receiving and processing Freedom of Information Act requests. The Education Department, Air Force and Army are running pilots of the program, AINS spokeswoman Cristina Farr said.

When a request is submitted via the Internet, FOIAXpress automatically acknowledges its receipt with an e-mail to the sender. The sender can check the status of the request and fees incurred, if any, and track the request's progress through the FOIA system.

GOP moving new Web site to Win 2000

With the campaign season heating up, the House Republican Conference has launched an interactive Web site to keep constituents informed on legislative events and issues.

The site, at, built on Windows NT Server 4.0, will be migrated next month to Windows 2000, said James Smith, the project's manager and press secretary to Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.), Republican Conference chairman.

The conference launched the site in June after about a year of planning. Microsoft Corp. designed the site.

'We wanted it to look like a newspaper or a magazine,' Smith said. 'You pull it up and see what's happening. We wanted it to be up-to-date to the hour.'

Visitors to the site also can receive customized news and information via e-mail about legislative events and issues that may be of special interest to them. Users click on 'customize,' sign up and pick from a list of bills and issues.

The site is powered by four 500-MHz servers from Compaq Computer Corp., one of which runs the system's database software, Microsoft SQL Server 7.0.

User impact of Microsoft breakup: No big deal

Not that they have much choice, but many IT managers are taking a wait-and-see stance on the impact a breakup of Microsoft Corp. would have on their Windows environments.

Last month a federal judge ordered Microsoft split into two companies, one to continue to make and sell Windows operating systems, the other software applications. Microsoft has appealed, and the case is now waiting for the Supreme Court to decide whether it should intervene.

Although a breakup, if it does come, is most likely years away, some IT managers said they aren't worried about having to deal with a bifurcated Microsoft.

'I've thought about it a little bit, and I don't think it's going to have a significant impact,' said Brian Milby, director of the Automated Information Systems Department at the Navy's Supply Corps School in Athens, Ga. 'I think the division between the operating system and the applications won't really touch us too much. We'll have to go to different people for the operating system and the software, but I don't think it's going to affect the quality of the software or interoperability or anything like that.'

GartnerGroup sees an upside for Microsoft
Government IT managers may want to keep an eye on what's ahead for Microsoft's applications company, if the split happens.

Officials at GartnerGroup Inc. of Stamford, Conn., at, have concluded the ruling could spell a bright future for the applications side of a divided Microsoft'especially for Internet technologies.

'The final ruling places severe business and behavioral restrictions on the new operating systems company but almost no restrictions on the applications company,' GartnerGroup officials said.

As a result, the applications company 'would have dramatically more market value and growth potential based on marketplace trends,' they said.

'In many ways, Microsoft's divestiture of operating systems would increase Microsoft's potential to be a leader in the new world of the Internet and software as a service,' analysts concluded.

Analyst: Don't rush to upgrade

There's no reason for Web ventures to rush into a Windows 2000 environment, said research analysts at Jupiter Communications of New York.

In a recent report, principal analyst Cormac Foster said the full potential for Windows 2000 won't be realized this year. 'Much of Windows 2000 is entirely new code, and while that code will eventually result in an improved product, new code is always buggy,' Foster said. 'Early adopters will encounter these bugs, while Web ventures that wait until Microsoft releases updated versions of the [operating system] will be spared.'

Stick with Windows NT for now, he advised. 'Web ventures that are currently satisfied with existing NT-based sites will see performance and scalability improvements by upgrading to Windows 2000, but they should leave the timing of that upgrade to their IT managers.'

The company's site is at

Backup tapes get Navy ship out of pickle

When a system crashed not long ago on a Navy submarine repair ship sailing out of Norfolk, Va., it was UltraBac, backup and recovery software for Windows from of Bellevue, Wash., to the rescue.

'We were always having problems with the backup software,' said Jay Bramble, a weapons specialist at the Naval Safety Center in Norfolk.

Bramble downloaded a copy of UltraBac from and took it on-board the ship, where servers were running Windows NT Server 4.0.

'We completely backed up the NT servers, and four days later, when we were under way and a long way from technical support, one of the servers crashed,' Bramble said.

After the crash, 'we restored the system from the UltraBac tapes, and the command was impressed,' he said.


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