Microsoft already has a number of systems management offerings like SMS and MOM 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.
But Microsoft has now 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 will extend its reach, and enable organizations to improve the management of Windows devices. Two of the more interesting proposed new capabilities are the Virtual Machine Manager and its proposed Service Desk development.
Virtual Machine Manager is designed to enable IT shops to manage their physical and virtual environments from a single console view. It pretty much 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 the market for Windows virtual device management, Microsoft is currently competing with only one vendor in the shape of Platespin, which 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 arguably 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.
Service Desk, which is its internal name and not necessarily the name it will be marketed as, incorporates the concept of a federated CMDB which is noteworthy as Microsoft has only just joined the CMDB Federation, 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, and it extends well into 2008. One notable omission is the lack 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.