Microsoft Operations Manager 2000 also introduced.
Microsoft has no intention of scrapping SMS or
letting its features be slowly drained away by
other products, according to the company’s Director
of Product Management Technologies, David Hamilton.
Hamilton reassured the SMS faithful during the
fourth annual Altiris SMS & Windows 2000 Users
Conference, which took place in March in Las Vegas.
More than 1,100 attendees from 20
countries heard Hamilton differentiate the change
and configuration management capabilities of SMS
from Win2K IntelliMirror. He stressed that the
only area of overlap was in software distribution
(see MCP Magazine’s November 2000 article,
“A Case for SMS”).
He also introduced Microsoft Operations
Manager (MOM) 2000 as a way to address server
management issues. “There’s a lot more to management
than change and configuration management,” said
Hamilton. “Microsoft wants to make it easier to
manage Windows 2000.”
Hamilton described some of the features
of the next release of SMS, code-named Topaz,
that will focus on better Win2K and Active Directory
integration, enhanced support for mobile users,
and completely rewritten software metering and
reporting solutions. He also detailed some of
the management capabilities being built into Whistler
that will complement both SMS 2.0 and Topaz.
Hamilton predicted improvement in
the long-term to both change and configuration
management technology as well as operations management.
This will come about via further simplification
and rationalization of Microsoft’s management
infrastructure, greater integration with core
technologies like WMI and AD, and the incorporation
of core data sources such as the HCL and Microsoft’s
TechNet Knowledge Base.
Martin Dey, development manager for
the SMS team, and Brady Richardson, program manager
for the Win2K administration group specializing
in IntelliMirror, provided a detailed delineation
of the features being worked on for Topaz. The
pairing of these two systems management heavyweights
underscores the degree to which Microsoft is attempting
to integrate its desktop management approach.
Dey and Richardson detailed the new
feature set of Topaz, expected to enter beta by
late summer. Highlights include:
A new code base for mobile users,
including bandwidth-aware software distributions,
termed “Drizzle support,” where installs are gradually
pushed, are interruptible and are saved in a client
- Active Directory targeting for
software distribution by machines, OUs or AD
- Add/Remove Programs CP integration
(goodbye to separate Advertised Programs Manager).
- Optional site boundaries based
on AD sites.
- Active Directory Discovery method.
- The ability to create packages
directly from .MSI files.
- Robust, scalable new software
- Replacement of Crystal Reports
with Web-based reporting, plus numerous infrastructure
improvements, such as improved Distribution
Point management, the ability to easily stop
and/or re-run advertisements, a tool for managing
SMS accounts and increased performance and functionality
for the SMS Administrator console.
In the meantime, a refresh of the
SMS Resource Kit will be hitting the streets by
early summer with a number of tools to be later
built in to Topaz. These will include new site-monitoring
tools, collection building via Visual Basic scripts,
a service account change tool, command-line tools
for site configuration, a Secondary Site installation
tool, inventory extensions for .MSI packages and
software listed in Add/Remove Program, and new
right-click functionality in the Admin console
to force client installs and hardware inventory.
Wally Mead, program manager on the
SMS enterprise team, presented a lively session
on MOM. Microsoft licensed this technology from
NetIQ where it was also called Operations Manager.
Mission Critical Software developed the first
incarnation of this tool. MOM’s features include:
- Automatic discovery of
- Distributed event management,
monitoring and alerting.
- Automated responses via
rules and Knowledge Base access.
- Operator notifications
via e-mail or pages.
- Reporting and trend analysis
through MMC, Web-based Management Console and/or
MOM will require both Win2K Server
and SQL Server 2000 to be installed, but can monitor
NT Server 4.0 and above. Mead emphasized that
SMS and MOM are complementary, not competitive.
MOM was expected to enter beta testing in March.
Because NetIQ’s Operations Manager was already
up to version 3.3, this is a relatively mature
product currently undergoing only cosmetic interface
tweaking by Microsoft before release.
Also entering beta: the long-awaited
SMS Installer Step-Up Utility (ISU). This tool
is designed to convert SMS Installer executables
to .MSI files. That will allow customized software
installations to gain the install-on-demand and
self-repairing functionality of the Microsoft
To learn more about SMS technology,