Microsoft gobbles asset manager

At the Microsoft Management Summit 2006, the company said it acquired AssetMetrix and will integrate the features into its management tools.

SAN DIEGO -- Microsoft has acquired Canadian asset management technology manufacturer AssetMetrix and said it will integrate the company's product features into its own Windows manageability tools.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. AssetMetrix, located in Ottawa, Ont., makes a Web-based asset management tool by the same name. The company also has a software library of more than 100,000 identified software titles and more than 200 reports targeted to asset and license managers, Microsoft said.

At the Microsoft Management Summit 2006 here this week, executives outlined plans to integrate the software into their Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003 and other existing software. The first features should appear within the next six or eight months, though it was unclear whether it would be delivered in a service pack or through another vehicle. Current SMS customers will receive the software library at no charge before the end of 2006.

IT administrators can use the tool to create categorization schemes so they can get a better sense of the status of their software environment, according to Bill Anderson, a lead program manager at Microsoft. For example, IT managers can use the charting to see where they stand in terms of their software licensing compliance.

Some customers liked the idea but require software that works across all platforms. "It would be good to have something that can easily break this stuff down for you," said Doug Campbell, a system engineer at Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Tennessee. "The problem we have is looking at this across all systems. We need something that looks at Linux too."

Customers today often buy their asset management software from one of the large management platform vendors such as BMC Software Inc., Novell Inc., Computer Associates, IBM or Hewlett-Packard, or from vendors that sell configuration management software.

But many of these are large and complicated frameworks for heterogeneous computing environments and not really suited to Windows-only shops, said Andy Mann, an analyst at Enterprise Management Associates in Boulder, Colo.

"I think Microsoft is offering this because it has a systems management product that focuses on configuration, and that's only part of a solution," Mann said. "Configuration is becoming part of a wider service desk implementation. You have to match it up with inventory and asset management. You need a holistic view across the enterprise."

Margie Semilof contributed to this story.

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