Microsofts Centro Solution Aims to Boost Midmarket Infrastructure

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-09-07 Print this article Print

Redmond is setting its sights on the smaller guys with Centro, a software package under development that addresses midmarket needs for easier infrastructure management.

Microsoft Corp. is recognizing the specific needs of the midmarket with a new infrastructure software solution under development known as Centro, which will be released in 2007 as part of the "Longhorn" wave of products.

Centro is specifically tailored to address the needs of the midmarket segment, which Microsoft defines as those customers with between 25 and 500 PCs connected to the Internet.
This is being seen as Microsofts pitch to the midmarket, which has often been neglected as a market of its own, having to either customize small business offerings or enterprise packages to meet their needs.
Bill Gates, Microsofts chairman and chief software architect, is expected to talk about his vision for the midmarket and the key role that Centro will play in that at the Microsoft Business Summit, being held at the Redmond campus on Wednesday, said Microsoft officials familiar with the content of his speech. Steven VanRoekel, Microsofts director of midmarket solutions in the Windows Server group, told that Centro—which will ship in 2007, the same timeframe as Microsofts Windows Longhorn Server—will bundle together Longhorn Server, the next version of Exchange and the next generation of security technologies. Those technologies, according to Van Roekel, include the next version of ISA Server and System Center management technologies, which includes software and patch deployment and monitoring of the desktop and server. Click here to read more about Microsofts plans for Longhorn and Blackcomb, the server version that follows Longhorn. Centro will be made available pre-installed from Microsoft OEMs and system builders as an out-of-box solution and is expected to run on between two and three servers, though that number is not final as yet. The software will also be made available for users to install themselves, VanRoekel said. "We are working very hard on making sure that the installation and set up is as automated and simplified as much as possible. Once it is up and running, users will have a management experience that ties the different applications together," he said. Citing the example of something midmarket IT managers do all the time—adding a new user—VanRoekel said that today this involves going into the directory, providing a user name, password and establishing an e-mail box. "But it does not end there, as the new user then has to be assigned to different groups, group policies established, printers mapped, applications enabled and made available to them, and then issue the user a computer and give it a domain account. "This takes four or five different tools that are independent of one another and have no basis or relationship," VanRoekel said. With Centro, users will be walked through all these stages via a user wizard, which will simplify and automate this process behind the scenes, reducing it to just a few steps. Next Page: The aim of Centro is to keep it simple.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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