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Microsoft Steps Closer to DSI Vision

Building on the success of Microsoft Operations Manager 2005 (MOM), Microsoft launched the newly branded version of its systems monitoring software late last month. MOM's new name is Systems Center Operations Manager (OpsManager) 2007.

It's a major upgrade, but it's not considered radical by industry analysts. It does move Microsoft further along in fulfilling the promise of its Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI), first laid out by Bill Gates over three years ago. OpsManager 2007 is expected to be released to market in April and be generally available through partners by month's end.

From a macro perspective, the new product evolves from simply a server-monitoring tool to a scale more in line with business realities. It will manage the services within an enterprise as opposed to managing individual devices. For example, it will keep tabs on the health of an enterprise's messaging services rather than on the performance of a single Exchange Server.

Figure 1
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Figure 1. Systems Center Operations Manager 2007 offers real-time tracking of device performance.

"Customers don't want to monitor individual servers, but the services in their environment," says Eric Berg, product manager for Systems Center at Microsoft. "It's no longer a console to look at individual servers, but uses a modeling language to monitor services and their components, giving you a holistic view of your service levels."

OpsManager 2007 has been re-architected around the systems modeling language (SML), a pending standard that lets devices within an enterprise be identified and modeled as part of an end-to-end network, Berg says.

Peter Pawlak, senior analyst at Directions on Microsoft in Kirkland, Wash., singles out a number of improvements in OpsManager 2007, notably the new Self-Tuning Assessment capability. This feature automates the tailoring thresholds such as healthy server utilization or performance in individual customer environments. With the current MOM 2005 product, administrators are forced to assign those thresholds manually -- a major pain -- but it's better than attending to every false-positive generated by MOM's out-of-the-box default settings.

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Figure 2. System Center's console offers admins a graphical overview of their environment.

"The new feature automatically watches your system, recompiles a baseline and then sets and adjusts those thresholds to usage patterns," says Pawlak.

Pawlak also lauds the revamped OpsManager console, which he says doesn't resemble MOM 2005's at all. Other enhancements to the software should facilitate Microsoft's desire to see OpsManager serve as the master console for monitoring the heterogeneous enterprise, as opposed to being a spoke that feeds Windows system data into a hub console from another vendor such as IBM Tivoli, BMC or Computer Associates, he says.

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Figure 3. Report Operations Manager 2007 has integrated reporting built on SQL Server Reporting Services.

Several other features come to bear. First off, OpsManager 2007 includes client-monitoring support. Specifically, it aggregates so-called "Dr. Watson" error reports from individual Windows clients onto the OpsManager system. This way, IT administrators get a much more meaningful view of the scale of client errors. "A company has a chance of seeing that 2,000 of its users are getting the same error all the time," says Pawlak. "At a corporate level you are then able to collect that information and analyze it."

OpsManager 2007 also includes a new audit collection tool to help users with security and compliance requirements, as well as an SDK for developers and partners to build management packs.

Lastly, Pawlak says to watch for easier integration of OpsManager 2007 and Microsoft's forthcoming Service Desk, trouble ticket and change management software expected during the Longhorn Server timeframe.

About the Author

Carolyn April is the executive editor of features for Redmond magazine.

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