The Microsoft Management Roadmap
- By Scott Bekker
Microsoft shipped a lot of management tools in 2004. A few minor pieces are on the calendar for delivery in 2005, but most of Microsoft's development work these days when it comes to administration and management is focused on the plumbing that connects Microsoft products.
With the central product in Microsoft's modern management technology strategy, Systems Management Server 2003, available about a year ago, Microsoft spent 2004 filling in the rest of the pieces. So this year saw the release of Microsoft Operations Manager 2005 and two feature packs for SMS 2003. One feature pack is for OS provisioning and deployment, the other is for mobile device management.
Microsoft also made significant progress in shipping a set of services to help IT get a handle on patch management. Windows Update Services, the second generation version of Software Update Services, hit the beta testing stage last month and is expected to ship next year. WUS fills a mid-range need. All Microsoft's patch management bells and whistles come in SMS 2003. But WUS represents a larger subset of that SMS patching functionality than SUS did. Both WUS and SUS are a step up from the base Windows Update feature in that they are centralized. The third Microsoft alternative is to turn on Windows Update on all the machines in an environment and allow them to download and install patches directly from Microsoft.
According to IDC analyst Dan Kusnetzky, complexity of managing Microsoft-based networks is one of Microsoft's biggest challenges. "They're hearing stories that complexity keeps CIOs awake at night," Kusnetzky says.
Microsoft's public response to the complexity challenge is called the Dynamic Systems Initiative or DSI. The components of DSI are WUS, MOM 2005, a series of MOM management packs and Visual Studio 2005, which is supposed to ship in 2005. The ideas behind DSI are that Microsoft products should be patched in a uniform way, that all Microsoft servers applications should be optimized for management by MOM 2005 and that developers should have tools (in Visual Studio 2005) to design applications in a way that makes them easier for administrators to manage once the applications are in production.
Like WUS, a free add-on for Windows, the MOM management packs will be free add-ons for the servers they ship with.
There is one traditional, product deliverable -- System Center 2005. In its first generation, System Center is to be a suite consisting of SMS 2003 and MOM 2004 with a new reporting server. System Center Reporting Server is based on SQL Server 2000 Analysis Services. It will be designed to help administrators run reports across the data kept by SMS and MOM to give them a unified view of the state of their Microsoft infrastructure. Future generations of System Center are planned to provide more sophisticated integration between MOM and SMS.
Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.