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Microsoft to map out autonomic computing strategy

At this week's Microsoft Management Summit, Redmond will go public with the details of its Dynamic Systems Initiative, which will eventually spread autonomic computing to every part of the Windows empire.

An audience of 1,500 to 1,900 customers and partners of Microsoft will gather in Las Vegas this week to learn more about the company's long-range vision for its manageability products.

At the Microsoft Management Summit, Microsoft will formally disclose its autonomic computing strategy, called the Dynamic Systems Initiative, and its impact on the company's next-generation unified management architecture, code-named Sydney. The company will also discuss Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2004.

The management architecture will encode management knowledge into the software and will provide an evolutionary path for Microsoft's current products, Systems Management Server (SMS), MOM and Application Center, sources said.

Project Sydney is not expected to come to fruition until after the Blackcomb version of the Windows platform, which is pegged for sometime around 2006, sources said. Microsoft declined to comment on that effort.

To get to this point, however, Microsoft must put in place its Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI), which is Microsoft's brand of autonomic computing. DSI creates an architecture that is based on a set of code called the systems definition model (SDM), which essentially provides an XML blueprint for deploying and managing applications.

The model will eventually span the operating system, the developer tools and other application tools, as well as partner and ISV activity, said Bob O'Brien, group product manager for Windows Server.

The technologies will enable the operations department to define what an environment looks like for that business in terms of its software. Developers use the SDM to build and expose behavior and characteristics of an application.

"The application is self-describing," O'Brien said. "When you put [the application] in the infrastructure, you get a cooperative effort between the infrastructure and the application."

This code will first appear, in part, in Windows Server 2003. Microsoft is providing an add-on later this year to help the server respond to changes in workload and demand. The company is also working with hardware vendors, including Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Computer Corp., to support the initiative.

Industry experts have been waiting for Microsoft to publicly discuss its strategy for autonomic computing. IBM Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. are among the vendors who have such plans in place. An initiative like SDM is something few companies can do, because you have to own a lot of the infrastructure, said Mike Gilpin, a research fellow at Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research.

The architecture requires comprehensive changes in a number of different elements, and it requires a significant upgrade, he said. You may not have wanted to do this previously, so it comes down to Microsoft adding enough value to make you want to upgrade. "But customers want to see this kind of value linked to upgrades," Gilpin said. "Not just bug fixes."

As for MOM 2004, the server software will include some new planning and deployment tools, as well as improved scalability.

The opening keynote for the Microsoft Management Summit 2003 is scheduled to be delivered Tuesday by Brian Valentine, senior vice president for Microsoft's Windows division. Maritz Travel Co. of St. Louis, which is handling MMS registration, said that, as of Friday morning, 1,930 people had registered. Microsoft has said it expects 1,500 attendees. Last year, MMS drew 1,400, according to Altiris Inc., which organized the 2002 summit.

News Writer Matthew A. DeBellis contributed to this report.


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