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IDC publishes whitepaper on x64 Windows Server adoption

[re-posted due to format issues]

A colleague, Dan Reger, pointed me to a new IDC white paper on Windows Server x64 adoption. The white paper is titled, “Understanding the Business Benefits Associated with x86 64-Bit Windows Server.”

The paper explains both the value of pairing x64 editions of Windows Server with today’s widespread x64 server hardware and how Windows Server 2008 will mark the inflection point for the transition to 64-bit computing.  The whitepaper includes several customer case studies and ROI analysis, illustrating that customers can recoup investment in their x64 transition within 6 months. And remember, Windows Server 2008 is scheduled to be the last 32-bit Windows server OS.

Virtually all new x86 hardware servers shipping today are 64-bit capable, yet most people are currently choosing to limit those systems with 32-bit operating systems and software.  As IDC says, “One of the biggest missed opportunities among today’s customer base may be the lack of use of 64-bit x86 Windows Server solutions to boost performance, scale, and utilization rates.”

There are variety of benefits, and few barriers, to going 64-bit.

Deployments requiring scalability – such as large scale virtualization – will benefit from x64 system’s direct access to more RAM.  However, there’s no need to deploy 2 TB of RAM to benefit from x64 – the larger virtual address space relieves kernel memory pressures as well (e.g. no more 128 MB limits on paged pool and non-paged pool).

Deploying a 32-bit solution on a 64-bit platform represents a lost opportunity to benefit from the scalability – and reduced costs – associated with a 64-bit solution.  However, customers who need to preserve existing 32-bit applications can do so – maintaining high-performance while experiencing benefits from their x64 hardware and operating system.  WOW64 provides a 32-bit environment for such applications, and x64 processors maintain high performance by allowing such applications to run without emulation.

And since new servers are already 64-bit capable, there’s little or no marginal cost associated with deploying a 64-bit solution.  Windows Server licenses provide the capability to run either the x86 32-bit or x64 editions – no marginal cost there, either.  The paper illustrates that customers can save roughly 20% in IT infrastructure and operations costs by moving to x64.

It’s true that drivers on 64-bit Windows Server systems – and applications with kernel drivers – must be 64-bit.  However, after more than two years of x64 Windows Server availability, the release of x64 editions of SQL Server 2005, Office SharePoint Server 2007, BizTalk Server 2006, Commerce Server 2007, Windows CCS, plus Exchange Server 2007’s release as an x64-only solution, the 64-bit server ecosystem is ready for prime time.

The paper is a good read, and makes persuasive arguments to actively plan your server environment’s transition to 64-bit.  Give it a look.  After all, “IDC believes that customers deploying new Windows Servers today should carefully consider the benefits and relatively nondisruptive experience that 64-bit Windows deployments can offer.”