MOM, WSUS, Windows management tools bundled for mid-market

A small flurry of Microsoft product news blew in from Spain and IT Forum 05 today. Mid-market IT managers are getting an integrated management package for patch distribution and server monitoring. Plus, Virtual Server R2 and enterprise desktop search have arrived.

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Microsoft said today it will bundle its management software products for mid-market customers. The company also released to manufacturing new virtualization software and unveiled a free enterprise search tool.

The new products were discussed at IT Forum 05, a Microsoft conference being held this week in Barcelona. The management package, called System Center Essentials, bundles Microsoft Operation Manager (MOM) 3.0, some System Center Reporting Server capabilities and Windows Software Update Services (WSUS) sized for the mid-market.

Enterprises in this segment of the industry often don't have a large staff on hand with special MOM expertise to manage desktops and servers. The bundle will have a single console from which IT administrators can manage patch distribution, monitor server performance and receive prescriptive guidance. And they don't have to be great experts, said Neil Macehiter, a principal analyst at Macehiter Ward-Dutton, a Cambridge, U.K., consultancy.

Macehiter said today's offering of an integrated management bundle is smart for Microsoft, though it might compete with mid-market partners.

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Microsoft Capacity Planner hits beta milestone

Microsoft skips service pack for Virtual Server 2005

Microsoft zeroed in on the mid-market with vigor this year. Last summer officials announced the release of "Centro," a Windows server bundle due out in 2007, among other initiatives tailored to this segment. At the conference, Microsoft said System Center Capacity Planner 2006 will be available in December. The tool uses modeling technology for the process of performance analysis and planning of system deployments for applications like Exchange Server 2003 and Microsoft Operations Manager. The beta cycle began just last month.

Microsoft has also put the finishing touches on Virtual Server 2005 R2, which will be available the first week of December. Virtual Server R2 supports non-Windows virtual machines, including Linux and 64-bit hardware. It also uses iSCSI to cluster virtual machines across hosts. Originally, this release was scheduled to be a service pack, but it was upgraded to an interim release in August because of its hefty features set.

Pricing for Virtual Server R2 is $99 for the Standard Edition and $199 for the Enterprise Edition, the company said.

Microsoft also made available a free desktop search tool for the enterprise. IT administrators can integrate Windows Desktop Search with other Microsoft or non-Microsoft applications, the company said. The search tool works with desktops running Windows XP or Windows 2000-based PCs. The tool is available today, Microsoft said.

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