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Microsoft Gets Help From EMC In Network Management

Microsoft is driving deeper into network management with the help of EMC.

Microsoft on Tuesday announced at the Microsoft Management Summit in San Diego that it has licensed EMC Smarts technology for monitoring network infrastructure, and plans to incorporate the software in the next version of System Center Operations Manager 2007, scheduled for release next year.

In addition, EMC said in a joint announcement that it plans to ship in May a Smarts connector for SCOM that would add root-cause analysis to the Microsoft suite. Root-cause analysis is the ability to detect the actual catalyst of a network problem. A single problem in a network often cascades into many other problems, making it difficult for an IT department to manually figure out the root cause. The EMC connector would be bought separately.

In the licensing deal, Microsoft plans to add through EMC the ability for SCOM to monitor routers, switches, servers, and other network infrastructure, capabilities it doesn't have today, Jon Siegal, senior manager of product marketing for EMC, said. Today, SCOM monitors and reports on application servers, Web services, clients, and software.

EMC's technology would feed the additional data to the SCOM interface, which will also show the relationships between all the network components. The licensing deal doesn't include root-cause analysis, which would be sold as a bundle with two other EMC Smarts modules, IP Availability Manager and Service Assurance Manager, Siegal said. The entry-level price for the package is $20,000.

While Microsoft gets a broader network management offering from EMC, the latter company is hoping the partnership will boost sales. "This is an opportunity for us to reach into a vast pool of customers that we're not currently serving today," Siegal said in an interview. Customers of Microsoft's management software, including previous versions, are in the thousands.

The companies also have a co-development deal and have agreed to work together with the rest of the industry in developing standards for model-based network management. Current efforts revolve around service modeling language, which is an XML-based specification that defines a consistent way to describe, or model, computer networks, applications, servers, and other IT resources. EMC has used its own proprietary approach for years.

Microsoft and EMC plan to continue working on SML and to incorporate the technology into their respective products as it becomes available, Siegal said. Other companies participating in SML development include BEA Systems, BMC Software, Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, and Sun Microsystems. Version 1.0 of SML was released last week.

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