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Microsoft aims for unified management console

Microsoft will bring a common look and feel across its System Center management products, and the upcoming Service Manager will help tie it together.

In the second of a two-part interview with Brad Anderson, general manager of Microsoft's management and solutions division, Anderson discussed how
Part 1 of Brad Anderson interview
Next up for Microsoft systems management -- the cloud
Microsoft is bringing a more consistent experience for administrators to its System Center product line using technologies such as PowerShell. With Service Manager due out in 2010, he described how it may provide a unified management console for the System Center line. Some System Center products have different consoles, user interfaces and naming conventions. What are you doing to give IT administrators a more consistent user experience?

Brad Anderson: Look at what we've done with Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) and Operations Manager.

Brad Anderson
Brad Anderson
There is integration between the two consoles and they are also built on the same data store. We're doing a lot of work on the underlying infrastructure. With VMM, you get a set of end-to-end scenarios that span across VMM, Operations Manager and Data Protection Manager.

That is the direction we are heading with our data center and System Center offerings. As we continue to push our data center [products], we will leverage a common data store. It's going to be based on a same console [that they have] today except for System Center Configuration Manager, which is based on the Microsoft Management Console.

The rest of the components inside VMM, Operations Manager and Data Protection Manager are all built on the System Center Console, which is the same technology that the Forefront technologies are built on. With the next release of System Center, we will move it onto the same console. Then all the members of System Center will be on one console. How exactly will PowerShell help unite the product line?

Anderson: We want everything built on PowerShell. VMM is an example of that. Everything we do inside the VMM console just calls PowerShell cmdlets. It's the prototype of how we're going to build out all of the technology across System Center. You will have a console that calls PowerShell commands, and the console will have unified scenarios that will cross all different components of System Center. The way to do that is to make PowerShell call out to whatever server is hosting that capability. Will there be a central repository of information gathered by all of the System Center products? Will that central platform be Service Manager?

Anderson: There are some organizations that want just one [platform]. There are organizations that have one team that does operations management, and another team that does configuration management. As enterprises get larger, this separation of responsibility increases.

We're trying to do both. If you want to have a unified way to do that, that's the way we are heading. But you also have to have a delegation of authority. Service Manager will be a piece of that [unified] approach. A lot of work has been done on Service Manager and we aligned it with the same infrastructure as Operations Manager and VMM. Microsoft launched Dynamic Systems Initiative as a 10-year plan, and we are about halfway through the plan. How have your plans changed along the way?

Anderson: When we started this in 2003, the full impact of virtualization both in the data center and the desktop was not understood. There are four core areas we focus on today: unified and virtualized, model driven and process led, service-enabled and then user focused. When we rolled this out in 2003, we really didn't have a deep understanding of what virtualization would bring to that and certainly software-as-a-service was not something we had wrapped our heads around as well. Everything we do now needs to have a service and premises aspect.

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