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Some admins disappointed by Microsoft realignment

The jury is still out on what it all means, but some administrators are expressing disappointment over Microsoft's recent decision to move responsibility for its manageability products from the software maker's Windows group to its storage group.

Many system administrators are disappointed with Microsoft's decision to have its management software chief report to the storage products group instead of the Windows group.

Count Larry Duncan, a Systems Management Server (SMS) expert, among the disappointed. "I think it's a bad move," he said. "It seems like they're just passing the buck."

Duncan is manager of special projects for Gresham, Smith and Partners, a national architectural and engineering firm based in Nashville, Tenn. He also runs, an online resource for administrators. He posted a poll on the site asking, "Do you agree with Microsoft moving SMS under the storage management unit?"

As of late last week, 53% of respondents did not agree, 6% did, and 40% were not yet sure. Though the poll was a small sampling of administrators, it's an indication of how they're thinking going in to this week's Microsoft Management Summit in Las Vegas, for which, as of Friday, more than 1,900 admins had registered.

Administrators are eager to hear Microsoft's long-term management software plans. The road map will include plans to develop a unified management platform, code-named Sydney, that essentially wraps the current functionality of the company's three manageability products into one.

On March 10, in an effort to demonstrate the importance of its management applications and focus on enterprise management, Microsoft changed the name of the management business group to the "enterprise management" division. In an executive realignment, Kirill Tatarinov, vice president for the enterprise management division, will report to Bob Muglia, senior vice president of the enterprise storage division. Tatarinov previously reported to Brian Valentine, senior vice president of the Windows division.

SMS, Microsoft Operations Manager, Application Center and Microsoft Solutions for Management will all remain part of the enterprise management division, Microsoft officials said.

Microsoft stressed that the enterprise management and enterprise storage divisions will remain separate, but the shuffling of the executive reporting structure is what irks Duncan and his mates. They perceive the change as another example of how little Microsoft values its management software platforms.

Duncan fears that SMS support, which he believes Microsoft already considers secondary, will worsen. "What kind of support are we going to get now?" he said.

One analyst said the realignment makes strategic sense.

The move is an attempt by Microsoft to overcome its management software reputation as a Windows-only player, said Michael Dortch, principal analyst and editorial director for research firm Robert Frances Group Inc., based in Westport, Conn. To be taken seriously as an enterprise systems management vendor, Microsoft and its offerings need more functionality and developer support, both of which the company now lacks, he said.

"Even if Microsoft is willing to tackle these challenges head on, the company is at least two years away from convincingly demonstrating its ability to do so," Dortch said. "Barring some remarkable, world-changing announcements at its Las Vegas conference [this] week, this trend is likely to continue."


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