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Growing data centers, SaaS will drive systems management, Microsoft says

Brad Anderson, general manager of Microsoft's management and services division, says software as a service, data centers and mobility are priorities for his team.

In late June, the Microsoft management community advocate, Brad Anderson, replaced longtime Microsoft management executive Kirill Tatarinov. In part one of a two-part series,
Brad Anderson, general manager of Microsoft's management and services division
Anderson discusses improvements to Configuration Manager 2007 over its predecessor Systems Management Server 2003 and how Microsoft, its partners and customers are developing a community for exchanging ideal system configurations.

Here in part two, Anderson says his sights are set on managed services under development at Microsoft. He's also eying the three areas that matter most to the future of systems management: growing data centers, software as a service and mobility.

Part 1 | Part 2 What trends do you see having the most impact on systems management?

Brad Anderson: [Data centers] are getting bigger and more complex. There's a lot of branch office consolidation in the data center and more thin clients running sessions out to the actual desktop device. There's a lot of pressure in substantially growing the data center and increasing utilization and decreasing costs. Virtualization helps, but customers are continuing to search for ways to manage that growth and cost. How to do that is top of mind for me. We will develop capabilities inside System Center and Windows to address that.

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I also see software as a service and as an attached service having a substantial impact on customers. Asset management is an example of a service that can be attached to Configuration Manager or Operations Manager. Maybe taking it a level deeper would be giving customers an online service that would help them understand the licenses they have with us and with ISVs -- a service that could show them a report of licenses they currently have deployed and where they're under-licensed or over-licensed.

[As for] ever growing mobility needs, we're already doing things like giving IT the ability to manage road warriors over the Internet, but also by default in Configuration Manager is the ability to manage handheld devices. That was an add-on that you had to download and install in SMS 2003 deployments.

With more of Microsoft's products being delivered as an online service what are you doing to help IT shops manage such services?

Anderson: There will be a set of customers that want things like Exchange, patch management, software distribution and asset management entirely delivered from the Internet as a service. We're already doing that with Exchange. We're going to be offering everything from a pure service, to a pure solution entirely based on software running from the customer site, administered by us or a combination of the two.

Today a team inside Microsoft can publish software updates to Windows Update because we've now aligned the underlying infrastructure across all patching capabilities.

We will develop capabilities inside System Center and Windows
to address [growth and cost].

--Brad Anderson,
Once they publish something to Windows Update it automatically gets published to Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) and all Configuration Manager 2007 customers. That is a pure software and service type of environment. So if a customer wants to have software updates hosted in the cloud and brought down to the workstation, that's what Windows Update does. If they want it entirely offline or as an attached service, if you will, WSUS and Configuration Manager will do that.

Those are services that customers can get with existing products. What about down the line?

Anderson: We took a portion of the subscription service from AssetMatrix, which is a service that inventories systems and brings that information back to a database in the sky, and puts it into SMS 2003 SP3 and Configuration Manager 2007. That way, customers can see a set of reports around assets and licensing.

When Configuration Manager 2007 SP1 comes out, IT shops will be able to establish a connection [to that online service] through the WSUS infrastructure embedded in Configuration Manager. New applications are fingerprinted in that online service, and that new set of metadata will roll down to all customers using Configuration Manager 2007. Customers will also be able to fingerprint their own internally developed applications that, by default, stay in their database and do not roll up to the service, or they can choose to share it with the rest of the community of users.

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