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Management software deserves higher stature, Wise says

Word from the Wise: Microsoft could do a better job of putting management software on the IT map. In an interview, an executive of longtime Microsoft partner Wise Solutions talked about its relationship with the software giant, the importance of change management and other issues.

Like many software companies, Wise Solutions Inc. works with Microsoft. But Wise's relationship with Microsoft is closer than most.

Since 1995, Microsoft has licensed Wise code for its Systems Management Server (SMS) installer, said Rich Bentley, Wise strategic market manager for the systems administrator market. Pieces of Wise's application packaging and deployment technology also come with Novell Inc.'s ZENworks.

Rich Bentley, Wise Solutions

Bentley talked about the decision by Microsoft to move SMS from the Windows group to the storage group and other system administration topics in an interview with prior to Microsoft Management Summit 2003.

Despite the recession, Wise is finding its way into budget-depressed IT departments. In the past three years, the privately held, Plymouth, Mich.-based company has recorded year-over-year revenue increases of 45%, 45% and 60%.

In the area of Windows management, where do you think Microsoft can improve?

Bentley: The biggest thing is putting it on the map, getting management software the attention that it needs. Any customer base is going to want to [have] more attention paid to their piece of the pie. Microsoft is trying to put an increasing focus on Windows management.

What do you think of Microsoft moving SMS from the Windows group to the storage group?

Bentley: I'll be curious to hear [this] week what they have to say about it. The general thought is that it will give them [management products] more visibility in the company and make them less Windows-centric. I'm optimistic [that] it's a good thing.

Did you expect this?

Bentley: It was out of the blue.

Should Microsoft's management products have their own unit? Some admins say they should.

Bentley: Customers will always want Microsoft to put more visibility on what they're doing. We'll wait and see.

What would you like to hear about from Microsoft this week?

Bentley: About enterprise software packaging, which is core to what we do. Effectively deploying applications. There's a huge value to customizing software and conflict resolution before you send it out.

It's a huge issue for admins. If they're not using a structured process for deployments, they find they have a high rate of failure. You know, 20% of desktop applications won't work correctly. It's a big issue for administrators in organizations of all sizes.

What are the biggest challenges facing administrators today?

Bentley: Managing through change. There are constant changes managing Windows desktops, updates and security patches, while minimizing the disruption to their business and trying to manage a reduction in costs. The economy has been an issue the last couple of years. IT staffs are being pressured to cut costs.

Have you done anything in tandem with Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing initiative?

Bentley: We haven't done anything formal, nothing directly related to the initiative. We provide a lot of tools that help support it. The core of what we do is provide tools that make sure -- before admins roll out applications and updates -- that they work, that they don't disrupt business operations.


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