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SUS renamed, management products pushed back to '05

Windows Server executive Bob Muglia on Tuesday provided some limited details about Microsoft's new management-software initiative. It appears that several products in the revamped lineup will be put on the shelf until 2005.

LAS VEGAS -- Those who came to Microsoft's annual management conference for a progress report on the company's overarching manageability program heard little news about the program itself.

What they did hear was that a lot of new versions of existing products will now be pushed back to 2005 and will be marketed as part of Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI).

A senior Microsoft executive, speaking at Microsoft Management Summit 2004, offered up little about DSI, the company's program that ties applications to a product's lifecycle. DSI will be infused in all of Microsoft's products, but the first step is to create tools that can help put the capabilities in place during the application development process.

Bob Muglia, senior vice president of the Windows Server division at Microsoft, said that DSI had its first design preview with some partners about a week ago, but he offered no details on the event. So far, he said, Microsoft has some elements of the System Definition Model ready and has some "initial code written."

SUS becomes WUS

Muglia did discuss, however, a number of product updates that are related to Windows system manageability. Most of the products or technologies were anticipated.

For example, a limited beta of the Software Update Services (SUS) 2.0 has begun. SUS will now be marketed under the name Windows Update Services (WUS). SUS 2.0 was expected to be available this summer, but Muglia said that the general beta will come this summer and that the product itself won't be available until later this year.

Microsoft Operations Manager 2004 will now ship in 2005. Microsoft also said that it will ship a slimmed-down version of MOM -- called MOM 2005 Express -- for small and midsized companies.

System Center, the evolution of MOM and Systems Management Server (SMS) into one product, will now ship in 2005. The beta for System Center has already begun.

SMS feature packs due this year

There are also two SMS feature packs in the works. The Device Management Feature Pack is entering beta today. The OS Deployment Feature Pack won't be available until later this year, Microsoft said.

Microsoft also said that a new version of Virtual Server is in beta now and will ship in 2005.

Microsoft does indeed use the term "DSI" to describe its overall management strategy, said Eric Berg, a group product manager in the Windows Server group. "DSI is a broader definition that includes all these deliverables," Berg said. "There is an inflection point around the System Definition Model core technology that will roll out through the set of tools over time."

There are those who fear that by wrapping all of its management products under the cloak of DSI, Microsoft risks going down the same road it did with its .NET strategy.

Instead of .NET being something specific that customers could grasp, it became a catch-all term for a lot of existing technology. In the end, the marketing strategy blew apart, said Peter Pawlak, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, a Kirkland, Wash.-based consulting firm.

"There is nothing dynamic or new about SMS, other than it's finally a worthy product after so many attempts," Pawlak said. "Same is true for MOM."

Release date confusion

The sliding release dates were a bit confusing to some customers, who heard Muglia say 2005, but read 2004 dates on some of his slides during the presentation.

"It could matter a lot to people depending on their support contracts," said one IT administrator at a large technology manufacturing company based in California.

Slipped ship dates and long-term initiatives were of little concern to many of the systems management administrators at the conference, however. For Bjorn Lysholm Jensen, an IT manager for Denmark's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a 2005 release date on System Center suits him just fine. "We've only just installed SMS 2003," he said.


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