Code-named "Topaz," SMS 2003 allows enterprise customers to deploy patches and applications as well as manage assets. Microsoft said in a statement that retail pricing for the software with 10 device client access licenses is $1,219. A 120-day evaluation version is also available here.
According to eWEEK Labs look at the prerelease software: "... any organization that is evaluating mobile management systems should immediately put the $1,219 SMS 2003 on its short list. Our tests showed that Microsofts product isnt the best product available, but its integration with desktop management, new security and reporting tools makes SMS 2003 a heavyweight product, not just an also-from-Microsoft accessory."
In coverage of early adopters, eWEEK reported on the experience of Marathon Oil Co. "Marathon Oil Co. has suffered through bug fixes, support issues, product testing and performance problems on the road toward implementing Microsoft Corp.s newest Systems Management Server. But the dedication of such early adopters, along with a lengthy development and testing cycle for SMS 2003, has many believing that the long-awaited Topaz release of SMS may have finally delivered on its promise."
Meanwhile, at the SMS 2003 launch event in Copenhagen at the Microsoft IT Forum conference, a handful of service provider and vendor partners chimed in with their own offerings integrated with the release of SMS 2003.
Dell Computer Corp., took center stage among those partners with a series of enhancements, including a new Microsoft Operations Manager management pack for Dell servers; integration of its Dell server deployment toolkit integrated with Microsoft Automated Deployment Services; and a jointly-developed security patch deployment offering for updating Dell firmware and hardware, according to David Hamilton, director of Microsofts Enterprise Management Division in Redmond.
Several smaller vendors also extended SMS 2003 into heterogeneous environments. Vintela Inc. announced an extension for managing Linux, IBMs AIX, HP-UX and Sun Microsystems Inc.s Solaris for inventory and software distribution. Xcellenet Inc.s Afaris SMS Integration Suite brings handheld devices such as Blackberry and Palm under SMS management.
Service provider partners that upgraded their existing services or added new, more specialized services for deploying SMS 2003 include Intrinsic Technologies LLC, Avanade Inc. and in Europe, 1E.
Editors note: This story has been updated since its original posting to include third-party developer support information.