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Microsoft boosts remote power of SMS

New feature packs for Systems Management Server target desktop operating system deployments and management of Windows-based mobile devices, respectively.

IT administrators who use Microsoft's manageability software should soon see two long-promised feature packs for that product.

This month, Microsoft is expected to deliver its Systems Management Server 2003 OS deployment pack, which extends the capabilities of SMS 2003 to the creation and deployment of operating system software. A second feature pack will help administrators manage mobile devices. The SMS 2003

If you had five different images, this would be handy for an administrator.

Peter Pawlak, analyst,

Directions on Microsoft

Device Management Feature Pack works with hardware running Windows CE 4.2 or Windows Mobile 2003 software for Pocket PC.

To use the feature packs, customers will need to run SMS 2003 with SP1. The software is expected to be released at the Microsoft IT Forum in Copenhagen, which is scheduled for Nov. 16-19. The company declined to comment on availability of either feature pack, but release candidates for both were issued earlier this fall.

The OS deployment software is of particular interest to many users who would like the capability to push out new images to remote machines. "If it lives up to its promise, the OS deployment pack will be a great product," said David Driggers, an IT asset manager and desktop system leader at Alabama Gas Co., in Birmingham, Ala.

Driggers will soon test the OS deployment pack and hopes to use it to install Windows XP SP2 across his enterprise.

At least one

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How to schedule a defrag on XP with SMS 2003

analyst said he expects the software to be especially useful from a central console when pushing out a new image to a machine that is either not behaving as it should, or if its role is being changed.

"If you had five different images, this would be handy for an administrator," said Peter Pawlak, a lead analyst at Directions on Microsoft, in Kirkland, Wash. "But I imagine that for a technology like this, the devil will be in the details. I have trouble sometimes just remotely rebooting servers. So with something that simple you run into problems. Imagine the problem of loading a new image and having it come back online."

Pawlak advised administrators to start small and be sure to test. "Be sure you know what you're doing so you don't have to send someone out to clean up the mess. You need a lot more confidence when you are deploying something remotely."

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