Microsoft Addresses Management Demands

Microsoft is working to meet the demands of customers desiring industrial-strength management tools.

As Microsoft Corp. continues its drive into more mission-critical computing, its customers are pushing the company to provide more industrial-strength management tools to ensure the high-availabilty and reliability those systems need.

Microsoft is working on two fronts to meet those demands, according to David Hamilton, director of the management business group in Redmond, Wash. One project will address server management, while the other will focus on client management.

The aim is to take best IT practices and processes and incorporate them into Microsoft management products. "We hear so much about desperate requirements to make it easier to drive consistency and repeatability in the way they do management operations. We want to drive IT processes back into the products. We call it digitizing IT," he said. The management software is intended to step an administrator through a scenario in a consistent fashion, he added.

With the emergence of Web services—in particular .Net--the server management project will take a more services management orientation while also creating a consistent set of processes for different scenarios.

"With the likelihood of applications existing across many servers and an application being very dependent on network connectivity or location to perform its operations appropriately, it needs to be managed in consistent fashion," Hamilton said. "Unless we do management right in .Net, the potential for it is limited."

The client manager project will take the broad view in providing management scenarios for all Windows client types, including Windows CE and PocketPC. End devices could be PDAs, mobile phones or point of sale cash registers.

"We feel we can take SMS after the 2003 release to a broader client-based approach and incorporate more client scenarios into it for monitoring, help desk and a generalized client solution," said Hamilton.

The Microsoft Operations Framework, which is based on the European IT Infrastructure Library of best IT practices, will provide the foundation for any products that come out of the projects.

The projects will be carried out over the next three to five years. The only deliverable that Hamilton would describe in the near term is a set of documents and solution guides that provide prescriptive content around common scenarios for using Microsoft products today. The guides will address three areas: security patching, Microsoft Office deployment and Microsoft Exchange monitoring. The guides are due in late summer.