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SMS 2003 SP1 Beta Available

Beta testing is underway for the first service pack for Systems Management Server 2003, Microsoft's enterprise product for change and configuration management.

SP1 is part of a multi-step plan by Microsoft to continue adding features and functionality to the six-month-old SMS 2003 product through service packs and feature packs. Microsoft is using SP1 to tighten security, increase reliability and improve scalability.

Security enhancements in SP1 include inventory encryption and client authentication; client certificate provisioning; and critical patch management. To improve the reliability of SMS 2003, Microsoft has now built in "Watson" support for server diagnostics.

Among the many improvements aimed at improving scalability are support for a greater number of distribution points to reduce maintenance cost, more granular control of intersite traffic, improved software distribution in multi-site hierarchies, the ability to bypass inventory of the Windows directory for each inventory rule and client-side performance enhancements for Windows Management Instrumentation-based inventory.

Microsoft is also broadening the types of configurations supported through SMS 2003. SP1 brings in support for Virtual Server 2005, which hasn't been released; Virtual PC; and workgroups. SP1 also eliminates WINS-specific calls in SMS and provides a localized administration console based on the operating system.

Not in the beta but planned for the final version of SP1 is advanced client support for computers with 64-bit processors.

In addition to the base SMS 2003 and the enhancements coming in SP1, Microsoft also has three feature packs for SMS 2003 in various stages of development. The SMS 2003 Administration Feature Pack is available. The SMS 2003 Device Management Pack is in beta testing. An SMS 2003 Operating System Deployment Feature Pack is in pre-beta development.

Information about signing up for the SMS 2003 SP1 beta is available here.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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