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Companies Rally Around Systems Center Family

Field report from the Microsoft Management Summit in San Diego

(San Diego, Calif.) -- With the Microsoft Management Summit so close to my home base in San Diego last week, I shot down Interstate 5 to talk to a few companies who were showing off products at that show, around announcements that Microsoft was making for the next few releases of the System Center family. (My apologies to those companies who I was unable to stop by and were not covered by this report.)

Altiris was my first stop: I talked to Scott Jones, who's a product manager of the company's SVS or Software Virtualization Service Plug-in. It's an intriguing product that takes virtualization a step further, by placing applications and data into packages that run in a virtualized environment.

What's so special about that, you might ask? Jones says that it allows for the use of applications without having to mess with registry settings or installation of DLLs that may conflict either with other apps or the OS itself. One of the cooler uses for the plug-in is for software testing prior to a rollout. The SVS Plug-in goes for $29 per managed node, with volume discounts available, although there is a free version for personal use only on the Altiris web site at www.altiris.com/juice/svs.

We'll have an interview with Scott Jones of Altiris that I conducted at the show in a future MCP Radio podcast.

Also in the virtualization space, Softricity introduced version 4 of its Softgrid application virtualization tool. Softricity says that it differs from solutions out there, in that it makes these virtualized spaces something that might resemble a portable run-time application image using the product's Sequencer packaging application. Packaging can be done from within SMS. Find out more at about SoftGrid 4.0 at www.softricity.com.

I also stopped by FullArmor's booth; CTO Danny Kim was the lone rep there, and I interviewed him a few weeks ago by phone about their PolicyPatrol product. Danny introduced GPAnywhere for SMS at the show. This version allows admins to set up and apply Group Policy Objects that can be rolled outside the boundaries of Active Directory-based domains. It's all done from the comfort of the SMS console.

GPAnywhere goes for $6 per managed machine, and $1,250 for the GPAnywhere management console. More at www.fullarmor.com.

Another company called iConclude introduced version 2.0 of its iConclude Repair System. IRS also integrates with SMS to provide monitoring, diagnosing, repairing and maintenance of Microsoft networks. These self-healing capabilities help out where SMS's and MOM's cabilities end.* More at www.iconclude.com.

And finally, Tidal Software's Tidal Application Scheduling and Performance made its debut at the show. It's an enterprise scheduling and application performance monitoring suite for SAP's application job scheduling component, basically helping to ensure high service levels. They're at www.tidalsoftware.com.

Stuart Johnston has more news about Systems Management Server, Microsoft Operations Manager, and the Systems Center family of products at the following links:

Elsewhere from the bizwire:

Virtualization folks VMware has created a trade alliance built around virtualizaton. The Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Alliance is a technology alliance of hardware, software and service providers for building joint virtual desktop offerings, says the company. Members include Altiris, Citrix, Fujitsu-Siemens, Hitachi, HP, IBM, Softricity, Sun and Wyse.

Microsoft is not on the list, says Jerry Chen, director of enterprise desktops at VMWare, but he said that Microsoft would be welcome to join the alliance. Chen said that VMware had not invited the company’s participation at the moment.

The alliance’s central theme is the growing need, given issues surrounding privacy and security compliance, to provide customers with the ability to better centralize hosting and management of virtual desktops.

NetIQ is shipping version 5 of its Group Policy Administrator package, an update that includes support for after-hours Group Policy Object deployment as well as cross-trust management.

The new after-hours deployment feature lets administrators schedule automated deployments to fit within the narrow time windows required for GPO deployment in strict change-control environments.

The cross-trust GPO management capabilities provide centralized management of Group Policy, including domains outside of a trust boundary. NetIQ Group Policy Administrator 5.0 starts at $9 per user.

If you have a million bucks for a server project but would much prefer spending it on a mainframe, IBM says it's rolling out a less expensive version of its top mainframe computer.

While IBM's top-of-the-line z9 mainframes cost $1 million and up, the company's new "Business Class" of the z9 will be aimed at smaller companies, with a starting price of $100,000.

The less expensive version is designed to perform traditional mainframe tasks, such as encrypting data and processing transactions, though it will not be able to handle as much work as the top-tier z9s.

(*This sentence has been edited to reflect feedback from Scott Roza, vice president of marketing and business development at iConclude: "I disagree with you stating that the self healing diagnosis and repair that iConclude adds to MOM and SMS is something that MOM and SMS can do today. In fact, when Microsoft conducted their product capability and vision demonstration for analysts on the Monday before the show started, they included iConclude Repair System to highlight how the full suite of MOM/SMS/iConclude really enables self-healing and in Microsoft’s words enables 'self managing dynamic systems.'"

I apologize for the misstatement, which has been corrected. Find out more about iConclude at www.inconclude.com -- Michael Domingo, Editor.)

About the Author

Michael Domingo has held several positions at 1105 Media, and is currently the editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.

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