Microsoft SMS 2003 ready to go, monitoring

FRAMINGHAM (10/10/2003) - Microsoft Corp. next month is scheduled to release the first of two management tools slated to play a prominent role in the company's strategy to develop a platform-wide infrastructure for managing Windows.

The final code of System Management Server (SMS) 2003, a software-distribution tool, will be released to manufacturing next week, and the software is scheduled to be available Nov. 11, more than a year behind schedule. SMS 2003, along with the forthcoming Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2004, eventually will be integrated into a new product called System Center that will be a key element of Microsoft's Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI) management plan, the company says.

MOM 2004, an event- and performance-monitoring tool, is scheduled to go into its first public beta by year-end. A private beta began two weeks ago.

Version 1.0 of System Center, which will let SMS and MOM share a data warehouse and reporting engine, is expected to ship in the middle of next year, about two months after MOM 2004. Subsequent System Center releases will fuse the two tools into a single product for managing desktops, laptops, personal digital assistants, applications and servers.

DSI, which was introduced in March, lays out a platform that supports a self-managing Windows environment. The environment is built around applications that communicate their management needs to a network using an Extensible Markup Language-based technology Microsoft is developing called the System Definition Model (SDM).

Microsoft has committed US$1.7 billion in research and development this fiscal year for DSI-related technologies in an effort to keep pace with rivals developing their own utility computing platforms such as IBM Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co.

"The thing about any of these big Microsoft initiatives is that they are so homogeneous in that the focus on Windows only," says Mark Ehr, an analyst with Enterprise Management Associates Inc.

To blunt some of the criticism, Microsoft last week unveiled its MOM Connector Framework, which will support bidirectional connections of MOM to management platforms such as IBM Tivoli, Computer Associates Unicenter and Smarts. Microsoft also announced three management packs that plug into MOM 2004 that will add support for Web services management capabilities. Actional, Amberpoint and Computer Associates developed the packs.

"We are trying to focus on the entire management process starting with the development of applications, through deployment and management, including end-user feedback," says Bob Muglia, senior vice president of Microsoft's Enterprise Management Division. Muglia says the next version of Visual Studio.Net, code-named Whidbey and expected to go into beta Oct. 27, will include some modeling tools to build SDM features into applications.

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