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Microsoft Unveils New SMS Features

Besides changing Systems Management Server’s name this week, Microsoft opened the veil on new features coming in the next major release.

In a move to reflect its relationship to the rest of Microsoft’s systems management tools, the company announced that SMS had been renamed System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) 2007 on Tuesday. (See "Microsoft Updates Roadmap at MMS.")

The software, which is currently in beta testing, adds a simplified user interface that supports drag-and-drop and advanced task sequencing for complex software and operating system deployments, according to documents posted on the company’s site.

Additionally, greater control of systems management is provided by including "Wake-on LAN" management over the Internet, and "time change windows." The technology is designed to let administrators wake up powered down systems and to schedule updates and distributions during specific timeframes.

In the area of operating system deployments, SCCM provides hands-off deployment for both clients and servers, and has features aimed at deploying Windows Vista and Office System 2007. "A new customizable task sequence engine drives the deployment process to ensure that when the sequence of activities is completed, the computer is ready for use," the documents say.

The new version will also feature support for Network Address Protection in conjunction with the upcoming Longhorn Server. (See "Longhorn Server -- Slip Sliding Away?.") Integration with Longhorn will enable use of Network Access Protection to assist in improving security compliance by restricting access to the corporate network by noncompliant systems. SCCM 2007 will automate the "remediation process" to bring offending systems up to the level required by network administrators.

To download Beta 1 of SCCM 2007, go here: http://www.microsoft.com/smserver/evaluation/2003/smsv4.mspx.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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