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December 18, 2006

Microsoft gets integrated in systems management

Along with Vista and Office 2007 announcements, Microsoft recently gave analysts an update on Longhorn - its next generation of server software. As a part of this update, Microsoft announced plans to deliver an enhanced capability in its systems management products. This looks like a promising route for the company to gain a significant share of the systems management market in the coming years.

By CBR Staff Writer

Currently, Microsoft has a number of point solutions (SMS and MOM for example) that are used to manage the infrastructure of Windows devices. However, these products are not integrated, which makes their use of limited value to many organizations that require a single lens through which to manage the entire estate.

Recently, Microsoft announced a roadmap that combines its management products to integrate them all under one umbrella – termed System Center. This, according to Microsoft, is evidence of it delivering on its stated policy of making Windows more cost-effective to own, and reducing its complexity. Microsoft is also adding some new capabilities to System Center that extend its reach, and enable organizations to improve the management of Windows devices.

One of the more interesting proposed new capabilities is Virtual Machine Manager (VMM), which is designed to enable organizations to manage their physical and virtual environments from a single console view. This development represents a ‘me too’ approach from Microsoft, as IBM’s Systems Director has an add-on module that will currently do exactly this. However, in this market for Windows virtual device management, Microsoft is competing with only one vendor that we are aware of. Platespin already has Windows-based virtual and physical environment management products. In fact, Microsoft uses Platespin’s technology to enable it to operate across the physical and virtual environments.

VMM is a welcome enhancement, but it does not go far enough in terms of its proposed capabilities to address some of the more difficult issues in managing in a virtual and physical environment, such as providing predictive information on future optimal use of the mixed estate.

Another interesting new proposed capability is Service Desk, which is its internal name and not necessarily the name it will be marketed as. This is another new development showing that Microsoft recognizes that it needs to compete in the systems management market; this ‘service desk’ offering incorporates the concept of a federated configuration management database (CMDB). While the other systems management vendors have been collaborating on the CMDB for some time, Microsoft has only just joined the CMDB Federation, which is the independent organization set up to ensure that CMDBs are developed on open standards, aiding interoperability.

Microsoft has only just announced the roadmap for Systems Center, which extends into 2008 before all the proposed capabilities will be included. However, the focus is primarily on the Windows operating systems, but Microsoft has not dismissed the possibility of closer integration with other vendors, or even developing a ‘manager of managers’ product.

The biggest disappointment with this announcement was the omission of any reference linking Microsoft’s Analysis and Reporting Services to the proposed System Center. These two products provide organizations with the ability to generate reports, perform trend analysis, and deliver these in a wide variety of formats; including dashboards.

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This move represents a route for Microsoft to gain a significant share of the systems management market by providing a comprehensive tool, similar to data center systems management products. As Microsoft develops its capabilities and extends its reach to enable other tools to link into its core engine, it will become a significant player in the systems management market over the next five years.

Source: OpinionWire by Butler Group (www.butlergroup.com)

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