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SMS for the enterprise outpost

Microsoft plans to go "light" to bring its desktop management technology to the outer reaches of the enterprise.

LAS VEGAS -- Microsoft's plans to deliver a slimmed-down version of Systems Management Server (SMS) sometime in the next few years may be welcome to small and medium-sized companies. But Microsoft is also targeting large enterprises that have branches and departments with no systems administration specialist on hand.

Kirill Tatarinov, Microsoft VP
Kirill Tatarinov, Microsoft VP

During interviews at the Microsoft Management Summit last week, Kirill Tatarinov, a Microsoft vice president, said that the company would look to simplify its SMS desktop management software and deliver a version that is akin to the somewhat modified version of its server product, Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) Express 2005. MOM Express 2005 will be released this fall, in conjunction with the release of the full-featured MOM 2005.

MOM Express 2005 is not just aimed at small and medium-sized businesses, Tatarinov said. It will also appeal to large companies that may require an implementation of MOM but don't need the entire feature set, or to companies that don't have a systems management specialist on hand.

"It will truly have the IT generalist in mind, and IT generalists may not be [systems management] experts," he said.

The changing IT landscape

SMS has traditionally been a systems management product that requires a well-trained IT professional. But the IT management landscape is changing, and companies may require more of their IT generalists to manage system software. The first step in delivering an easier to use product is MOM Express 2005. The next step will be bringing SMS to the same level of simplicity, Tatarinov said.

It will truly have the IT generalist in mind, and IT generalists may not be [systems management] experts.

Kirill Tatarinov,

Microsoft VP,

Tatarinov said Microsoft is still drawing up plans for a slimmer version of SMS, but he offered no additional details.

A focus on ease of use

David Hamilton, director of product management in the management group at Microsoft, said that he expects that a simplified version of SMS will be easier to install, offer more wizards and have a friendlier user interface. "We are looking to make SMS a little more task oriented," Hamilton said.

SMS administrators agree that the desktop management software is one of Microsoft's more complex products. Individuals need a good understanding of clients and servers, bandwidth, SQL Server and the various SMS management components, such as Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI), experts said.

"[A slimmed-down version of SMS] might be useful for smaller companies," said Jack Nielsen, manager of desktop architecture at Ashland Inc., an oil and construction company based in Covington, Ky. Ashland has more than 12,000 machines, so Nielsen said that his company would probably stick with a full-strength SMS.

"I don't know what kind of health features it would have, but it will be good for the smaller enterprises," Nielsen said. "SMS [manageability features] used to be a luxury that only the larger enterprises could afford."


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