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Microsoft server chief weighs in on key IT trends

Microsoft's Bob Muglia knows IT administrators have a lot more to worry about today than just server management.

The role of the Windows manager or administrator isn't just about the caretaking of enterprise servers and desktops. With rare free time on their hands, Windows managers need to keep a close eye on evolving service models and regulatory trends and they should look for tools that can benefit an enterprise. Bob Muglia, senior vice president of the server and tools business at Microsoft, talked with about some of the ways Microsoft's platforms are addressing some of these trends. How should IT pros be thinking about or preparing for services in the cloud and Web 2.0?

Bob Muglia

Bob Muglia: My first question would be what are [some] areas where [IT] could get the benefits of a service provider in some form? We have looked at how we can enable [IT] applications so they can run in a service provider world. We have some applications running with partners. We are looking at all workloads that companies are using and how they can be turned into service-based applications. Messaging and collaboration are on top of that list and desktop management in general.

I would ask [the IT manager] when do they want to keep the data or application in house? What business advantage do they want to generate? Are there workloads that need a world class infrastructure for their users? Even in collaboration and messaging we see software as a service can be delivered at a reduced price.

What are Microsoft's plans for creating some sort of utility licensing model so IT shops can pay on a per-use basis versus a per-server basis?

Muglia: One thing about licensing as we move forward – you have to count something, somewhere. Servers are easiest for some companies, though we are looking at ways to broaden site licenses.

We bought a company called Fast, and with the combination of SharePoint and Fast, we will have strong search and categorization.
--Bob Muglia, Microsoft,

If third-party companies started offering tools to help people find out their true computing costs, in the course of utility computing, won't it force Microsoft to develop new licensing models?

Muglia: We always look. We put a lot of energy into developing new tools for System Center to help companies understand what software they are using within their organization, so [they] can identify what Microsoft and non-Microsoft software [they] are using.

IT managers are more directly involved with e-discovery and regulatory compliance than ever before. What specific tools will make these and future versions of Microsoft enterprise software more helpful in those situations?

Muglia: It's complicated because regulations continue to evolve. Look at things on a workload to workload basis. In Exchange [Server] 2007 we made it easy to export all the mail messages and connect to SharePoint so you can do queries. With [Windows Server] 2008 we are updating the Rights Management Server. Information can be encrypted so it can't be lost or stolen. We bought a company called Fast [Search & Transfer ASA], and with the combination of SharePoint and Fast, we will have strong search and categorization [capabilities].

What are your thoughts on how Active Directory and Group Policy will evolve?

Muglia: In [Windows Server], we've expanded the number of policies that can be managed on the client. What you are seeing us do is improve the configurability of our environment, and the manageability. We are making major investments in Group Policy as we are making in all management tools.

[Windows Server] 2008 was an important step forward. But we still manage systems as individual machines. We will move to a world where we will manage pools of machines. Today Group Policy and management settings are for individual machines, but that will move to groups of machines as dynamic systems.

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