MMS: Microsoft touts new management projects, fails to deliver tangible products

Microsoft Management Summit was long on road maps and short on vehicles. In the closing keynote, Microsoft unveiled two new product development projects that will deliver integrated management tools later this year.

LAS VEGAS -- At the close of Microsoft Management Summit today, Microsoft laid out its road map for delivering integrated Windows management capabilities but failed to put actual products in users' hands.

In MMS' closing keynote, speaker Brian Valentine, Microsoft Windows Division senior vice president, unveiled the Client Manager and the Server Manager projects. Both projects revolve around development of scenario-based management solutions that extend the functionalities of Microsoft Application Center 2000, Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2000, and Systems Management Server 2.0/2003. Products resulting from the projects -- including Software Update Services, Server Status Monitor and several service pack updates -- will begin to appear on the market later this year, Valentine said.

In the next two to four years, the Client Manager and Server Manager projects will produce "more robust, secure, integrated management solutions," Valentine said.

The primary goal of Microsoft's management initiative is to eliminate the need to use many point-to-point management tools, Valentine said. Customers today have to use a wide variety of point solutions to handle management challenges in security, e-mail management, desktop administration, network management, and so on. Microsoft's Client Manager and Server Manager projects will create integrated solutions to address these problems, he said.

The Client Manager project will address management of all kinds of Windows-based clients, from PCs and laptops to phones and devices like registers and ATMs, said Valentine. It will focus on removing management responsibility from end users in often fast-paced, constantly changing environments. Client Manager's goal is to enable IT managers to make updates without physically touching desktops. SMS 2003, announced this week and available in beta this summer, is the first step toward broader client management capabilities, said Valentine.

The Server Manager project will address the move into .NET and Web Services, Valentine said. Building on the functionalities of MOM, SMS and Application Center, the project will create solutions for managing servers, applications and services inside and outside the firewall. MOM 2000 Service Pack 1, Application Center 2000 Service Pack 2 and Software Distribution Pack 2 for MOM will be in beta this summer and will provide support for .NET environments.

Valentine described Server Status Monitor and Software Update Services, which will be available later this year. Software Update Services will be a free subscription service that will allow corporations to control end user updating. "Corporations can build out their own software distribution infrastructure," Valentine said. Server Status Monitor will combine functionalities of MOM and Application Center to provide simple server monitoring for smaller businesses running five to 10 servers.

Keynote attendees were happy to hear Microsoft is upping the ante in the management space, but several said that they were disappointed that they had to go home empty-handed. For example, computer specialist Dave Fish said that he could really use the products Valentine described. "I hope I can deploy them" this year, said Fish, who works for the Department of Veteran Affairs in Albany, NY. He'd come to MMS hoping to find a way to automate security patch deployment. He was happy to hear that this tool was in the works. As a Microsoft customer, he said, the difficulty in deploying patches was one of his biggest gripes of this past year.

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