LAS VEGAS—Microsoft shipped the first deliverable in its new Dynamic Systems Initiative with the beta release of Automated Deployment Services for Windows Server 2003, but the companys vision for reducing complexity in the data center wont be realized for years to come.
Microsoft announced at the second annual Microsoft Management Summit the beta release of ADS, which promises to reduce the amount of time it takes to deploy hundreds of Windows Server system images to minutes from days or weeks. ADS is capable of remotely deploying operating system software to “bare metal” machines, according to Brian Valentine, senior vice president of the Windows Server Division in Redmond, Wash.
The streamlined server system image distribution tool, in addition to automating server deployment, also provides image creation, editing and scripting, a script-based administration framework and the ability to encode operational standards.
Its general release is due in the second quarter.
Windows Server 2003 will also lead the way in the Dynamic Systems Initiative with other manageability features, including automated patch management, improved usability of remote administration and scripting, and simplified connections to storage area networks, Valentine said.
More promising and ambitious in the data center automation initiative is Microsofts System Definition Model, an XML-based schema for easily instrumenting systems, applications and other infrastructure components during the development of those elements.
SDM, intended to foster instrumentation that allows the operational requirements of applications to be captured and combined with data center policies, is intended to allow data center operators to automatically provision and modify applications and their resources on the fly as business requirements change.
Microsoft Automates Server Deployment – Page 2
The first implementation of SDM will be delivered in the next version of Microsofts Visual Studio development tool, due early next year. Following that release will be an SDM implementation in Microsoft Operations Manager 2004, due next summer, and then in the forthcoming Systems Center suite.
“From here forward, any new things not in the final stages of development will be in the SDM view of the world,” said Valentine of the company-wide initiative.
Microsoft will also promote adoption of the SDM schema among third-party developers, including hardware OEMs, management software providers, smaller data center management tools vendors as well as systems integrators, according to Eric Berg, product manager for Windows .NET server marketing in Redmond.
Toward that end, a handful of Microsoft partners voiced support of the initiative and pledged to integrate with the ADS. Those vendors include Hewlett-Packard Corp., which intends to integrate its ProLiant Essentials Smart Scripting Kit with ADS; Computer Associates International Inc., which will integrate its Unicenter enterprise management tools with ADS to enhance Windows server provisioning; as well as Opsware Inc. and Consera Software Corp.
“We will be able to use ADS with Opsware to provision bare metal Windows systems. It gives us more information on how the system is configured than whats in the standard Windows registry. It will give us access to additional (Dynamic Link Libraries) and system files,” said Sharmilla Shahani, senior vice president of marketing at Opsware in San Jose, Calif.
But Opsware is taking more of a wait-and-see approach to the SDM.
“Microsoft is really trying to specify a new standard. Its success will depend on how well it is adopted. We need to see development momentum around its adoption,” she said.
For users attending the Microsoft presentations on its DSI vision at the conference, the proof will be in the products.
“Im still trying to figure out what it means. When it evolves into a product, well clearly understand it,” said Michael Niehaus, IT consultant at Marathon Oil Company in Houston.
With the long delivery cycles in Microsoft management products such as Systems Management Server 2003—formerly called Topaz and over two years in coming—patience will be key.
Despite multiple shipment delays, Kirill Tatarinov, corporate vice president of the Enterprise Management Division promised that Beta 2 of the release will ship on schedule in April and will be generally available in September. Next year Microsoft will also deliver a new SMS feature pack that will provide image-based provisioning. Symantec and Powerquest will integrate with the feature pack, he added.
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