Microsoft Puts New Life Into Its Systems Management

A host of new products are designed to work and compete with leading enterprise management products, the company says.
Microsoft on Tuesday will reveal details of its latest efforts to establish the company as a systems management provider. The initiative includes new tools, resources, and feature packs focused on its evolving Dynamic Systems Initiative.

Chairman Bill Gates unveiled the products at the IT Forum in Copenhagen. The Dynamic Systems Initiative is designed to help bridge the gap between a historical view of systems management as an "after the fact" platform and a framework that's built around manageable applications, says David Hamilton, director of the Windows and Enterprise Management Division at Microsoft.

"Customers are saying to us that management has been over-promised and under-delivered as an industry," Hamilton says. "We think today management is often done as an afterthought, and we want to build manageability into applications."

Microsoft has been increasing its efforts in systems management over the past 10 years, Hamilton says, and this week's announcements will take the company to the next level, both complimenting management platforms such as Computer Associates' UniCenter, Hewlett-Packard's OpenView, and IBM's Tivoli, and aligning Microsoft as a direct competitor.

New introductions this week include the Microsoft Operations Manager 2005 for managing Windows Server System events and performance, the Virtual Server 2005 to aid in testing and developing software, consolidating servers, and migrating legacy applications, and the Virtual Server 2005 Migration Toolkit to ease migration of an operating system and associated applications from a physical server to a virtual machine running on Virtual Sever 2005. Several feature packs help manage devices such as PDAs and also Windows operating systems deployment. There also are new tools for managing desktops and checking engineering compliance of Windows Server Systems.

To help companies get a handle on the numerous software patches that come out each month, Microsoft unveiled a beta version of Windows Update Services. It says Update Services improves access and control of updates and also lets companies automate patch deployment and automation of deployment of Microsoft software updates.

In addition, Microsoft and Dell on Monday announced a development agreement to streamline updates and patch management. The companies provided details of how they're integrating Dell's OpenManage 4 systems management software with Microsoft's Systems Management Server 2003 to provide unified tools needed to update system software, operating systems, and applications with a single mouse click, says Laura Bosworth, director of systems management for Dell.

The Dell and Microsoft product, called SMS 2003 Inventory Tool for Dell Updates, is scheduled to be available in January as a free download. "We're integrating our tools on a unified interface that addresses hardware, software, and operating systems; specifically change management and patch management," Bosworth says. Eric Berg, group product manager in Microsoft's Windows and Enterprise Management Division, says typically customers have to use two different tools from vendors to complete hardware and software updates. "Customers don't want to think about managing servers, managing operating systems, and managing applications separately," Berg says. "This is a unified way to manage a system top to bottom."

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