Build management into software, MS says

Systems and desktop management is often an expensive and fraught exercise for IT staff and companies. Microsoft says the solution is to design management into applications and systems.

Attendees at a Microsoft management summit in Sydney earlier this month heard Microsoft’s plans directly from David Hamilton, the director of product management in the Windows division of the management business group.

The plans — a programme called dynamic systems initiative (DSI) and technology called the systems definition model (SDM) — would be a “five- to 10-year effort”, driven by the need to cut total cost of ownership, Hamilton told Computerworld . “Systems definition model is a long-term effort and we really think it will pay dividends in the Longhorn timeframe,” Hamilton says. Longhorn is the codename for the next version of Microsoft Windows, expected in 2005.

The first stage is to incorporate SDM support in development tools from Microsoft and third parties such as Borland, he says, to make it easy for developers to support SDM in their applications. “It’s easier to do management if you design apps with management in mind.”

The second stage would see SDM incorporated into the operating system, including update tracking and remote management.

Finally, Microsoft would release management products to administer DSI networks, Hamilton says. Just how the administration tools will work is uncertain at this stage. “At the moment it’s very high-level. Nothing is ready.”

Hamilton confirms SDM will be available to vendors of other management tools and applications. What about other platforms? “Absolutely. We’re not naïve enough to think that enterprises only use Windows.”

Microsoft expects SDM software to scale in both directions. While DSI probably won’t assist organisations running just a few desktops, it would benefit those with a few servers or with offices in more than one location, Hamilton says.

Asked whether DSI software would include tools for monitoring and managing licences, Hamilton says it’s likely to build open the software metering tools already deployed in System Management Server 2003, due in September.

Help at hand, says MS

System administrators waiting for improved Microsoft management tools won’t have to wait SDM-savvy applications.

Microsoft’s David Hamilton says updates are in the pipeline for System Management Server (SMS), which focuses on management of desktops, and Microsoft Operations Manager, used to administer servers and shared networks.

System Management Server 2003 will ship in September, with a focus on laptops and mobile devices, he says.

Portables are often exposed to networks outside the corporate firewall, and may be missed when updates are applied. They are a common avenue for infection by Trojans or viruses. “We still want to keep those mobile environments up-to-date,” says Hamilton. “It’s really tough. We have really done a lot of work.”

Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) can be expected in June next year, aiming to ease administration and deployment, which “takes a lot of work at the moment,” Hamilton says. “There are still substantial improvements we can make to MOM. You shouldn’t need a PhD in mathematics to use a management tool.”

MOM will also introduce “management packs”, plug-ins to support specific services such as Exchange or Active Directory, he says.

SMS and MOM will be bundled together in a package called Microsoft Systems Centre.

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