System Center joins the Microsoft logjam

The software maker's plan to combine desktop and server management in a single offering has been put on hold while Microsoft works to clear a backlog of products that have a higher priority.

The Microsoft software package that combines desktop and server management has officially joined the product logjam forming in Redmond.

System Center 2005, which was to have been shipped by the end of 2004, is now officially due out in the first half of 2005, according to Eric Rudder, senior vice president of servers and tools at Microsoft. He made the remarks Thursday at the annual Microsoft financial analyst meeting in Redmond.

Prior to that, Microsoft

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said the release of Windows Server Service Pack 1 would slip into next year, as well as a 64-bit version of Windows.

System Center combines the features of Systems Management Service 2003 and Microsoft Operations Manager 2005, with some modest integration of the two products, plus some additional features unavailable in those two products, according to experts.

SMS and MOM functions share a common SQL Server database, as well as SQL reporting services, according to Peter Pawlak, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, a Kirkland, Wash.-based consulting firm. The software will also use SQL Server's OLAP features to aggregate and analyze a data warehouse containing management data extracted from the two sources, Pawlak said.

Incentives needed to attract customers

Pawlak said he doesn't expect that there should be a long gap between the release System Center and MOM, which is still on track for a late summer 2004 release. "It wouldn't take a lot to put that bundle together, unless they are so serialized in their development that they can't do anything until 2005," he said.

Pawlak said he doesn't expect System Center to be a big seller unless Microsoft presents some great licensing terms that make it more attractive than purchasing both software packages separately.

At the financial analyst briefing, Rudder also said that Windows Server is now currently running on 62% of the world's servers, and that this year, 50% of the systems running NT 4.0 were converted to Windows Server.

Rudder also said that Microsoft's Exchange messaging platform is now a $1 billion business. Its seat count this year grew by 30%, he said.

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