Microsoft's Muglia on management offerings

LAS VEGAS (03/18/2004) - Bob Muglia, senior vice president of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Server Division, discussed the company's management offerings and shipping dates with Computerworld this week during the company's annual management conference here. This is Part 2 of the interview with Muglia.

Microsoft Operations Manager 2004 has now become MOM 2005. Has the ship date slipped to 2005?

We follow the auto industry in the sense (that) when things ship in the second half of the year, we name them the model name for the next year. ... We're trying to make things consistent.

So you're calling the product MOM 2005, but it's really going to ship in 2004. Absolutely. Our plan is to have it available for customers this year. Now realistically, like anything else, we'll make sure we go through the testing process and it's ready to ship. But ... we have very high confidence of it being 2004.

But Microsoft hasn't been consistent about this naming convention. We've not been consistent about this in the past, and we're trying to be consistent moving forward. We called (Systems Management Server) SMS 2003, for example, last year. So you're absolutely right.

Microsoft also said last year that BizTalk Server 2004 would ship in the second half of 2003, but that didn't happen. It shipped this year. If you look at the date, obviously if you call something 2005, sometimes things might not ship until 2005, but we feel very good about MOM shipping this year. We feel very, very solid about that. It's looking really good.

Are you also adopting this naming convention to build in some leeway for yourselves in case it's not ready at the end of the year? Not really. Honestly, this is a case where we're not so close that I would feel like I have a problem with that, because our internal schedules give us quite a bit of leeway.

What will happen with System Center, which integrates SMS and MOM? We'll call it 2005 as well. What you'll see is this new module on reporting services coming out this year. System Center is a suite of products. SMS is one of the products. MOM is one of the products. We're adding new products to that suite, of which this reporting module is the first new one.

And the reporting module will come out this year? Yes. Exactly.

You showed slides about the second version of System Center. What's up with the follow-on product? There will be some discussions here where we'll go in a little more detail on that, but we are looking at how we can build fundamentally on top of (the Dynamic Systems Initiative) and the System Definition Model. The key to the integration for System Center more than anything else is the System Definition Model. Every suite of products needs a technology to integrate across. And SDM is what we're building System Center in the future on top of. And in fact, System Center will really be the first set of management tools that we're building on top of SDM that Visual Studio 2005 is producing.

Microsoft announced that it hosted a meeting for partners and large customers to discuss the design preview for SDM and to refine the XML schema that will be used to describe systems. When will the SDM be available for public review? I'm not sure when we'll have a version ... of SDM for anybody to review. I don't have a date for that right now. What we'll do is take in the feedback we just got last week, incorporate that into it, get some (more) feedback with these folks and then broaden it over time. The time when you'll see it broadly is when, for example, System Center v2 goes into a broad beta. V2 will be when we really begin to integrate the technologies more deeply around SDM.

Last year, Microsoft officials indicated that v2 would be ready in 2005. Is that still the case? We'll be in beta for sure in 2005. I don't know what our final ship date will look like.

Is it likely 2006? I think it is likely 2006.

What's the reason for the slip? I feel good about the progress we've made and what we've come to. This stuff is hard. It's just a lot of work to do on this stuff.

What kind of reaction are you getting to this unified SMS and MOM? Lots of big organizations say that differing sets of IT managers use those types of products, and they don't think they'll use the integrated System Center. In many corporations, you have a different team of people doing monitoring than doing configuration management. ... Some companies might have an integrated group of people that do these things together and think about this thing all cohesively. If that's the way they run their business, we'll provide products that let them do that ... and we'll integrate it for them. If companies ... have separate groups within the company, we'll build best-of-breed products for each of those groups, but then we'll also put services on top of it. Those sets of reporting services could be of use to either one of those two teams. ... We want to fit into either mechanism.

And you will continue to sell MOM and SMS separately? Yes. Absolutely.

Is System Center designed for smaller organizations? No. It'll be designed for organizations in the medium-size and above. And frankly, our biggest challenge at the moment isn't that aspect. Our biggest challenge at the moment technically is making SMS great for medium-sized companies. We have work to do in that space. Just like we made MOM easier to use, we need to make SMS easier to use.

When will you do that? We will take our first step when we do the System Center v2 product. That will be the next chance we get to do that. At the same time we'll do that, we'll do another release of SMS.

Will there be another stand-alone release of MOM at that time? Roughly, yes. We'll try and release these things together.

How much of the Dynamic Systems Initiative have you delivered so far? There were two key attributes to DSI, one piece being the feedback loop between the developer and the operations center, and the core to that is SDM. ... (SDM will) be built into products. It's not a product in itself.

Into Windows Server? Exactly. It'll be built into System Center, MOM, SMS and then the developer tools. ... In the feedback between the developer and the operations center, SDM is the key to that, and really the first release of SDM comes with Visual Studio 2005. That will enter broad beta this summer, and that'll come out next year. We'll build on top of that with System Center v2 and build in the operations side against that. That's one part.

The second half of what DSI is about is the feedback between the operations center and the end user. And we talked about "Watson" technologies as a concrete example of that. We have other work going on, for example, that's sometimes referred to internally as "documentation Watson" -- getting data back about documentation that people have written. That's incredibly useful to allow people to know whether the training materials and the information that people have about how things work is solving customers' needs.

Won't there need to be an organizational change in IT shops to achieve your Dynamic Systems Initiative vision, with developers using SDM to describe applications and pass on that information to the operations team so that it will help them to manage systems? How is Microsoft going to promote that organizational change to get these different groups to communicate? Whether it requires organizational change or not will depend on the company itself and how they want to structure themselves. I think it does provide formalized mechanisms for communications between groups which may not be communicating very effectively today.

Do you think the SDM message is better targeted at developers? It's partially developers, and it's partially operations teams. I think it's very valuable to both.

Will SDM be useful before it's built into products? It is still useful. It'll be built into the development side of things, certainly. It takes operations pieces, though, to make it useful in the operations side of things.

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