Microsoft Deal Aims To Serve Multi-Platform Customers

Microsoft takes a minority stake in a company that ties its Systems Management Server to non-Windows platforms, a key feature for customers with multi-platform IT environments
Microsoft Corp. has taken a minority stake in a company that ties the software giant's management tools to Linux and other non-Windows platforms, indicating that Microsoft is intensifying efforts to have Windows products work better in heterogeneous environments.

In addition to the investment in Vintela Inc., Microsoft also drew closer as a partner to the Lindon, Utah., company through more extensive product support and licensing agreements, Vintela announced on Tuesday.

Vintela sells management-extensions software that enables companies to tie Unix, Linux and Mac operating systems to Microsoft's Systems Management Server 2003, which provides software and hardware inventory, software distribution and other management functions.

In addition, Vintella plans to release in the first half of 2005, software extensions for Microsoft Operations Manager 2005, which monitors IT systems for potential problems.

Microsoft and Vintela did not disclose the amount of the minority investment, but that deal along with the other agreements was an indication that the larger company does not want to lose sales of its management tools to other vendors that provide cross-platform support, Peter Pawlak, analyst for Directions on Microsoft said.

"Windows is a better player in an heterogeneous environment because of products like Vintela's," Pawlak said. "This is an important strategic partnership for Microsoft because it enables them to play in a space that they would normally have to yield to companies, like Computer Associates (International Inc.) and BMC (Software Inc.), that do more heterogeneous management tools."

For Microsoft, an unusual element in the support deal with Vintela is an agreement to support the smaller company's software along with Microsoft's own products, Pawlak said.

"It's very unusual for Microsoft to agree to support someone else's product," Pawlak said. "They've never gone so far in saying that they'll help you solve problems with a third-party product."

Matt Peterson, co-founder and chief technology officer for Vintela, said Microsoft, based in Redmond, Wash., was responding to customer demand for multiple-platform support. Vintela sells software extensions for Unix-based AIX, HP-UX, Solaris, Linux and the Mac OS X. He insisted that Microsoft was not responding to Linux alone.

"This is not a reaction to a specific environment," Peterson said. "I blend Linux in with all the other non-Windows platforms. There are enough of them out there that need to be managed."

Linux, nevertheless, is growing faster in the market than any other Unix operation system for running business applications. Computer servers running the open-source OS generated $960 million in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2003, International Data Corp. said. Revenue from Linux servers increased 63.1 percent year-over-year, while unit shipments jumped 52.5 percent.

Editor's Choice
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Terry White, Associate Chief Analyst, Omdia
John Abel, Technical Director, Google Cloud
Richard Pallardy, Freelance Writer
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Pam Baker, Contributing Writer