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Microsoft Releases CTP2 of System Center Service Manager

The second community technology preview (CTP) of Microsoft's System Center Service Manager, the company's newest application in its System Center suite, is now available for a virtual test drive, according to a Microsoft announcement last week.

System Center is a line of products that helps organizations with desktop, laptop, server, mobile device configuration and operations management, according to company materials. A Microsoft spokesperson noted by e-mail that Service Manager will provide a service desk capability as part of System Center, including:

  • Built-in service management best practices including incident, problem and change management.

  • Flexibility to adapt standard service management processes to an organization's requirements without custom coding.

  • Platform for integrating information, workflows and automation across System Center.

"Service Manager will be most helpful for companies with large Microsoft-based server infrastructures and gives Microsoft a more complete System Center lineup that can drive sales of core products such as Windows, Active Directory, SQL Server and more," said Donald Retallack, research vice president of systems management and security for Directions on Microsoft, in an e-mail Monday. "It positions Microsoft as a serious player in the enterprise datacenter, helping the company compete with HP, IBM, Siebel and others in large enterprises."

CTP2 for System Center Service Manager can be accessed online here and contains new features compared to earlier versions that were released only to Microsoft Technology Adoption Program (TAP) customers and partners. Some of the new features mentioned in the announcement include "Operations Manager integration, role-based security and user experience, knowledge management, and full-text search."

The second beta will be available to the public this fall, according to Microsoft product statements. Beta 2 will be "feature-complete," with full functionality for incident, problem and change management. Additionally, customers will be able to build their configuration management database (CMDB) using the connectors for Operations Manager, Configuration Manager and Active Directory, according to an e-mail from the spokesperson.

"Basically, what Service Manager does is automatically generate an incidence that's populated with the information that has come back from Configuration Manager or from Operations Manager," noted the spokesperson. "It then allows you to orchestrate whatever change and however you want to make that change across people, across process and across your technologies."

According to Microsoft, Service Manager will likely be licensed in a manner similar to the other System Center products on a standalone basis. It is scheduled to be included in the new System Center Client Management suite and as part of the Enterprise CAL, which currently includes Ops Manager and Config Manager as part of Core CAL.

"Service Manager is an ambitious product and has been delayed significantly by scalability problems," Retallack said. "Originally intended for 2007 release, Microsoft has had to re-architect the Service Manager configuration management database and workflow engine and integrate them with other System Center products. The product is now not expected until 2010."

About the Author

Herb Torrens is an award-winning freelance writer based in Southern California. He managed the MCSP program for a leading computer telephony integrator for more than five years and has worked with numerous solution providers including HP/Compaq, Nortel, and Microsoft in all forms of media.

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