MS WPC - System Center management family grows

Systems management is becoming more of a focus for Microsoft as it rolls out its System Center family of products

Microsoft is steadily building a family of System Center systems management software aimed at both midsize and enterprise customers, the company said Wednesday.

In terms of Microsoft's management tools, 2006 is proving to be a "watershed year," said Andy Lees, corporate vice president, server and tools marketing at Microsoft during a keynote address at the Worldwide Partner Conference in Boston, which runs through Thursday.

Lees formally introduced the latest addition to the family, System Center Essentials 2007, currently in beta testing and due to ship either late this year or early in 2007. Focused on midmarket customers, Essentials is a Windows Server systems management product.

Microsoft will encourage its partners to sell Essentials to customers and then use System Center Operations Manager 2007 to provide remote software deployment, update management, monitoring and troubleshooting over a secure Internet connection, Lees said.

When an IT problem is identified, partners can use the System Center software to access information, including a summary of the problem and its possible causes and resolution, Lees said. Using System Center Operations Manager 2007, partners can get a dashboard view of all the customers they're remotely supporting. They can then drill down on a user's flagged problem to see which individual computer has the issue and the relation of that device to the customer's overall IT set-up.

Partners can also use System Center to generate reports that they can send to customers each month demonstrating the actions they've taken to support their computers.

Microsoft intends to fully integrate its new Forefront security software with System Center so that the systems management offerings can also flag security alerts, Lees said.

System Center Operations Manager 2007 was previously known as Microsoft Operations Manager, also fondly referred to as MOM. Microsoft also plans to rebrand its Systems Management Server (SMS) as System Center Configuration Manager 2007.

In May, Microsoft unveiled its System Center Virtual Machine Manager, previously known as "Carmine." The software, currently in beta, enables systems administrator to manage virtual machines on a network and quickly get new virtual machines up and running.

Other members of the family include System Center Data Protection Manager focused on optimizing disk-based backup and recovery.

System Center stacks up against rival systems management products from CA, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.

Microsoft's server and tools business is a roll, Lees said, reporting $US2.8 billion in revenue in Microsoft's most recent quarter, 16 percent up on the third quarter of fiscal 2006. It was the division's 15th consecutive quarter of double-digit growth, with the vendor on track to repeat that performance in its fourth quarter when results are released July 20.

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