New MOM to ease Microsoft management

Microsoft will soon launch the latest version of its performance management product, offering it up as a key link in its ambitious Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI) plan to reduce IT complexity by improving software and hardware manageability.

MOM 2005 (Microsoft Operations Manager) and MOM 2005 Workgroup Edition were released to manufacturing last week and will be generally available Oct. 1. MOM 2005 succeeds MOM 2000, released in 2001. The Workgroup Edition is new and aimed at companies with 10 servers or fewer.

"MOM 2005 is a really important step forward to the DSI vision," said David Hamilton, director of the Windows and Enterprise Management Division at Microsoft.

DSI is a comprehensive plan to improve manageability of Windows. It requires broad industry participation to reach the vision of hardware and software that communicates operational and management needs to the network. Some have described it as utopian.

But Microsoft is plowing ahead with DSI. The company had a meeting in March with 150 partners and will provide early support in forthcoming releases of Visual Studio and other products. Still, Microsoft has said the initiative is a long-term plan.

"It is going to be 10 years before we realize the vision of DSI," Hamilton said in a late July interview.

Rackspace Managed Hosting uses MOM 2005 and other components of DSI, including the Auto-mated Deployment Services add-on to Windows Server 2003 and Systems Management Server 2003. Although these are the early days for DSI, Rackspace Senior Systems Developer Paul Wimmer is excited about it.

"DSI is still really in its infancy, but Microsoft is taking the right steps. It is really a change for not just us, but for anyone who architects a datacenter. Any such change is going to take some time; it does not happen overnight," Wimmer said. "We can see there are clear steps, that this is not just an initiative that has nothing behind it."

MOM 2005 fits into DSI if the plan is loosely defined as everything Microsoft does to improve manageability of desktop and server systems, said Peter Pawlak, a lead analyst at Directions on Microsoft Inc. "But if you look at DSI as an initiative to build manageability into applications and system components from the time they are developed, MOM 2005 is not any step in that direction yet," he said.

MOM 2005 offers a new Outlook-like user interface, graphical systems views, and enhanced reporting tools. The product has also been designed to be easier to deploy than its predecessor, according to Microsoft.

Along with the new version of MOM, Microsoft will make available new and updated management packs for the performance management application. Management packs are used to monitor a specific server or Windows service, such as Exchange or Active Directory. MOM management packs are "kind of our version zero of DSI," Hamilton said.

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