Test drive tools at MMS labs

Practice makes perfect, right? At Microsoft Management Summit this week, 40 hands-on technical labs will let conference attendees test SMS and MOM, as well as other technologies.

Microsoft Management Summit's 40 technical labs and 24 sessions will offer its 1,500 attendees in-depth technical training on Microsoft's four management products: Systems Management Server, Microsoft Operations Manager, Application Center and Visio Enterprise Network Tools (VENT). The fifth annual event begins on April 30 and runs for four days in Las Vegas.

"Users will get training from the top IT people in the world," said Kevin Copeland, director of marketing for Altiris, one of the show's sponsors. "Each attendee can go in and get hands-on training on various aspects of Systems Management Server (SMS), Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) and other Microsoft technologies."

Overall, Copeland said, MMS is there to facilitate a community where IT managers using Microsoft products can meet and swap stories. NetIQ, Altiris and Microsoft "want to give users an idea of a firm direction of the systems management space ... and the latest information and training available," he concluded. MMS is presented by MyITforum.com and sponsored by Microsoft, Altiris and NetIQ. The technical labs are sponsored by Compaq.

Fifteen labs will be offered on three of the four days for a total of 40 labs with 100 computers in each one. Over 30 organizations will exhibit at the show.

Microsoft Management Summit, formerly called the SMS & Win2k User Conference, will stress that SMS is still a core part of Microsoft's management package, said Copeland. Even though Microsoft has focused lately on its MOM, Application Center and VENT management products, "we don't want to alienate SMS folks," he said. That's why the show is offering solid technical labs and breakout sessions devoted to SMS, he said. Microsoft's next generation of SMS, co-named Topaz, will be released in beta this summer.

Dwain Kinghorn, CTO of Altiris, will advise attendees on Wednesday, May 1 on lifecycle management in his keynote address. Kinghorn will discuss how Microsoft users can leverage their back office investments to manage the technology for its entire lifecycle, said Copeland. IT managers will be able to manage technology "from the deployment and management stages, implementing asset management, help desks and problem management to integrating with current Microsoft investments." Kinghorn will also talk about how IT managers can expand SMS to manage desktops, Copeland said. Lastly, Kinghorn will discuss best practices for managing a mixed Windows/Unix environment.

Also on the conference roster are four other keynote addresses and 24 breakout sessions. Other keynote speakers include: David Hamilton, director of product management in the Management Business Group of Microsoft's Windows Division, on Tuesday, April 30; Cameron Haight, research director at Gartner Research, on Tuesday, April 30; Chuck Bosenberg, CEO of NetIQ, on Thursday, May 1; and Brian Valentine, senior vice president of Microsoft?s Windows Division on Friday, May 2.

Breakout sessions will cover general systems management issues, but will also venture into Microsoft's Application Center, Microsoft Installer (MSI) training and Microsoft Visio training, Copeland said.

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