Microsoft Continues Push Into Management Arena

Many new management variables are trickling out this year, including the new Microsoft System Center.

As Microsoft’s server products ramp up their scalability, the management of that environment must similarly grow in order to handle the increasing demands on services and resources. Microsoft System Center is a significant new entry in that management space.

System Center was unveiled at the Microsoft Management Summit 2003 (MMS 2003) in Las Vegas in March. Redmond positioned it as the company’s long-range vision for providing business customers with complete application and system management.

System Center will initially feature Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003 and Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2004. David Hamilton, director of Product Management for the newly created Enterprise Management Division (EMD), vowed that SMS 2003, due this summer, will ship “ready for the enterprise.”

A year ago, at MMS 2002, Microsoft announced that the next version of SMS would be dubbed 2003 and that all future products will be named for the fiscal year in which they are released. SMS 2003 beta 2 should be available by the time you read this and will feature 4,000 bug fixes, a host of security enhancements, significant performance improvements and some attractive new features, including:

 Software Usage Metering on both the Standard and Advanced Clients

 Push installation for Advanced Clients

 Improved cross-forest support

 Improved built-in reports

 Easier setup for SQL replication

 The recent SMS Feature Packs built in

The new feature that wins the “It’s About Time” Award is eliminating the need for WINS and NetBIOS browsing for sites using Active Directory, Advanced Clients and SMS Advanced Security.

Bill Anderson, lead SMS product manager, also announced at the summit that his team’s working on some additional SMS Feature Packs. One is the Device Management Feature Pack, which will allow SMS sites to manage a range of computing devices such as PDAs, Pocket PCs, Windows SmartPhones, Windows-based Terminals, Single Purpose Commercial Devices such as handheld inventory scanners, and Windows XP-embedded devices like Point of Sale terminals. Perhaps more exciting to system administrators will be the Image Deployment (ID) Feature Pack. The ID Feature Pack will integrate with Symantec Ghost and PowerQuest DeployCenter imaging products to allow SMS to deploy full OS images to fully functioning PCs with an OS already installed, as well as out-of-the-box computers with no OS. The new Feature Packs should be available for both SMS 2.0 and SMS 2003.

On the server management front, the goals for MOM 2004 are to make it easier to deploy and use, as well as provide a single console for networks and server events. MOM 2004 will include numerous new features, including new console alert views, a new reporting engine, new options to reduce deployment and configuration time, and a new suite of management packs.

Microsoft CIO Rick Devenuti told the nearly 1,500 attendees at MMS 2003 that Microsoft’s own Operations Technology Group (the internal IT department) uses MOM 2000 exclusively for managing its Exchange Environment. OTG is now requiring a MOM Management Pack for very new server product Microsoft develops.

About the Author

Mark Wingard, MCSE, MCT, CTT, works as a desktop management specialist for a major research laboratory. He’s been a network professional for more than 14 years, an MCP since 1992 and currently designs AD implementations and SMS deployments.


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