Microsoft puts final touches on Configuration Manager

The move is part of Redmond's Dynamic Systems Initiative

Microsoft has announced that development is complete on its System Centre Configuration Manager 2007, a cornerstone in its model for managed IT systems. It will ship in November.

For users moving from the previous version called System Management Server, the release represents an upgrade, but for those tracking Microsoft’s Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI), a 10-year plan to build a management platform for Windows, it represents a beginning and an end.

SCCM 2007 is key to Redmond’s far-reaching DSI plan and is the first product to ship with support for the Service Modeling Language (SML), a technology Microsoft has submitted to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) for standardisation. SML is the replacement for the System Definition Model (SDM) language, a linchpin in DSI that serves as the foundation that servers and applications use to define their optimum health and operational needs, and communicate that data to the network. Operations Manager and Visual Studio, which shipped earlier this year, both support SDM. Microsoft’s goal had been to use SDM, first introduced in 2003, to bring developers together with IT departments.

Developers will create applications that support SDM, while IT will deploy systems that can understand the language and use it to make management decisions.

But SDM is on the way out as Microsoft moves to adopt SML, a common language that it developed in conjunction with partners such as CA, Cisco, EMC, Dell and IBM.

In March, the group turned SML, which is based on Microsoft’s proprietary SDM 3.0 specification, over to the World Wide Web Consortium for standardisation.

SML support will eventually be a feature in every management tool under Microsoft’s System Centre brand and in everything from Configuration Manager to Windows Server 2008 to Visual Studio.

In short, adopters of SCCM 2007 will eventually move to an SML-based environment once the specification is approved as a standard by the World Wide Web Consortium. Currently, the software supports SDM 3.0, which the SML proposal is based on.

In addition, users will need to roll out other SML technologies. Microsoft and its partners are working on the Common Model Library, which uses SML as the foundation for models of specific network components such as routers, storage devices, network servers and applications.

But so far the work is in its infancy, having mostly been developed within Microsoft, as SDM has.

Since 2003, Microsoft has been talking on and off about DSI and the importance of SDM to the overall model.

The vision is that SDM-based models will foster better reliability, tracking, reporting, automated response/troubleshooting and rapid problem containment while making management efforts less expensive, easier and more consistent. DSI is Microsoft’s version of what others call autonomic computing.

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