In the warm-up before the launch of its Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003, Microsoft has pledged to ease the burden of managing the desktop.
Microsoft claims a new feature in SMS, formerly named Topaz, will address the increasing need for IT managers to manage software inventory and delivery to laptops, handheld devices and the non-traditional desktop environment.
This new feature complements Microsoft's recently outlined roadmap for making Windows more manageable in the enterprise, announced at its Management Summit 2002 held in Las Vegas last week.
Calum Russell, Windows server product marketing manager at Microsoft Australia, said: "Over the last year the focus on management has increased dramatically. But as budgets tighten on IT spending, the challenge is to do more with less."
"If I can do a lot of this automatically, such as deploy remote location and server, desktop software, without needing staff to do it, I can, firstly, get network applications to market quicker than they ever have before. Secondly, I can run an operation, without growing my staff and thus get better efficiencies. This means as an IT manager, I can deliver better service levels. A lot of IT managers are getting paid on delivering service levels. If they are not delivering service levels, they are not getting paid for it," said Russell.
"We want Windows to be the best managed platform on the market. We're not getting that from a lot of products in the market. We've found a lack in server management and, in order to maximise the desktop, you need to bring a new level of management to it," he said.
Further to its enterprise management initiative, Microsoft will soon announce two more initiatives: the SMS Value-Pack and Software Update Service (SUS). The value-pack will enable administrators to import the latest patches, updates and services packs directly from Microsoft for distribution through SMS.
SUS is the corporate equivalent to Windows Update. It connects across the firewall to the Microsoft Windows Update and allows the IT administrator to import critical services updates and patches. Unlike Windows Update, however, the IT administrator can control which items it then publishes internally to corporate servers and desktops.
The new feature in Microsoft's SMS software will only support devices that run Windows CE, Windows-powered Pocket PC software or Windows XP Embedded.