Microsoft outlines management software road map

Microsoft plans to release new versions of its Systems Management Server and Microsoft Operations Manager in 2006 or 2007.

Microsoft on Tuesday updated its systems management software road map, announcing new versions of Systems Management Server (SMS) and Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) to be released in 2006 or 2007. At its fourth annual Microsoft Management Summit (MMS) in Las Vegas, the software maker also said it would ship a new capacity- planning tool called System Center Capacity Manager 2005 by year's end.

The next versions of MOM and SMS will incorporate the model-based management approach that is being used in Microsoft's Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI), an ambitious 10-year plan to simplify management of software and hardware.

The next version of MOM, code-named Version 3, will let administrators monitor not just servers, but also the services delivered to end users, said Kirill Tatarinov, corporate vice president of Windows and Enterprise Management, at a keynote presentation. The product will support the client and server versions of Longhorn and will be more extensible than the current version, with an improved software development kit and authoring tools, he said.

The upcoming version of MOM will also help administrators act faster when a problem comes up. "It brings a lot of automation," Tatarinov said. Today, in MOM 2005, the administrator gets a list of tasks to execute, or he has to write manually scripts to fix problems. MOM 2005 was released last November.

SMS "version 4" will support configuration management that allows users to enforce IT policies on clients and servers, Tatarinov said. Additionally, the new version of SMS will have a new user interface and support security capabilities such as the Network Access Protection feature coming in the Longhorn version of Windows Server.

SMS 2003, the current version, shipped in late 2003.

System Center Capacity Manager 2005 is new on the road map. Microsoft first demonstrated the tool last year, when it was code-named Indy. Capacity Manager lets users plan Exchange Server 2003 and MOM 2005 deployments. "It models performance and helps you identify future bottlenecks," Tatarinov said.

A second version of Capacity Manager is planned for 2006 or 2007 and will support a broader array of Microsoft technologies, including Active Directory and SQL Server, Tatarinov said in an interview.

To help administrators with deployments, Microsoft plans to make the Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF) part of its System Center products. MOF is based on the IT Infrastructure Library and provides operational guidance, Tatarinov said.

Also coming down the pipeline this year are releases of System Center Reporting Manager 2005, a tool that collects data from SMS and MOM 2005 for reporting purposes, and System Center Data Protection Manager 2006, a disk-based, backup and recovery server that previously was called Data Protection Server.

With its road map, Microsoft if offering a better-defined path to DSI, said David Friedlander, an analyst at Forrester Research. "It has very clear ties to DSI, we did not really see that last year," he said.

DSI is Microsoft's utility computing plan. It promises plug-and-play manageability. For example, an Exchange Server brought online in a network would automatically inform the management software of its status, configuration and tasks. The self-managing Windows environment is built around hardware, software and applications that can signal their management needs using Microsoft's System Definition Model.

Matt Carling, an SMS architect at The Boeing Co., is looking forward to the new release of SMS, especially because of the promise of a new user interface. "The current Microsoft Management Console has outlived its usability," he said. The System Center Capacity Manager also appeals to Carling, although he would like to see it support SMS.

Bruce Alcock at Intergis Health in Oklahoma City may use SMS for desktop management, and MOM to monitor some critical desktops, partly replacing existing IBM Tivoli software. "It's exciting, Microsoft is responsive to customers," he said.

Microsoft on Tuesday also officially announced that System Center is now the brand name for its systems management products and that it has abandoned plans to bundle MOM and SMS into a product called System Center, as it announced two years ago.

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