Microsoft Partners Up for Heterogeneous Management

Microsoft is working with Cisco and EMC/Smarts to help users monitor their systems, networks and devices more cohesively.

SAN DIEGO—Microsoft demonstrated at the Microsoft Management Summit 2007 that it now has heterogeneous management religion when it announced key management partnerships with Cisco Systems and EMC/Smarts.

Bob Muglia, senior vice president of Microsofts server and tools business, announced in his keynote speech on March 27 that the software giant is working with Cisco Systems and EMC/Smarts to create a core set of models that describe managed elements in a cohesive way.

The models will be based on the Service Modeling Language specification now being considered for standardization by the W3C.

"Were partnering with EMC and Cisco to do the core design work for systems, networking and devices of all kinds," Muglia said. "Were also going to work with other partners on this. This is foundational work that over time will become industry standards. With EMC and Cisco we have a lot of domain expertise across the IT systems you have."

Cisco Chief Development Officer Charlie Giancarlo in a video shown during the keynote said that, together, the three vendors will collaborate to break down the management silos that exist inside IT today.

With help from partner EMC, Microsoft announced that it will provide network aware service management capabilities in its Systems Center Operations Manager tool, which has also moved beyond Microsoft-only management.

"Weve never done much with network management. In the next version of Operations Manager we will add network-aware service management to it," said Muglia. "To do this we decided to work with a leader in network management. We are working with EMC and the Smarts group to bring forward network management within Operations Manager."

Howard Alias, executive vice president of global services and resource management at EMC, said that, "Microsoft and EMC have a shared vision to deliver true end-to-end service management to give visibility and control back to IT. The tools we have today dont cut it. The real opportunity is to bring cross domain capability for end-to-end service management, shifting the burden back to the system to talk about whats happening in the IT environment and the true bus impact [of infrastructure problem]."

For the existing versions of their respective tools, Microsoft and EMC built a bi-directional connector to allow discovery and health monitoring of networks, systems and applications and to "send models back and forth to use the Smarts tools to find causality," said Elias.

Microsoft for its part created an operations manager management pack that allows Smarts to be used for the network discovery. Future versions of their tools will not require the connector because EMC licensed Microsofts underlying foundation technology to integrate that capability into its tools.

Microsoft also announced that its Systems Center Operations Manager 2007 will be available the week of April 2 in general release. Microsoft completely re-architected the tool, formerly called Microsoft Operations Manager, and added new desktop monitoring, taking it beyond server monitoring.

The client-side monitoring is offered in three levels of depth. The first level uses existing Microsoft Watson technology to collect and aggregate reports across all desktops. That allows IT to begin troubleshooting problems before users pick up the phone, according to Eric Berg, director of product management for System Center in Redmond, Wash.

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"You can see that 200 desktops in marketing are crashing, so you have that before people start calling," he said. Watson gathers a fair amount of information in its error reports, he added.

The second level, delivered as an agent Microsoft is creating for Vista, Windows XP and its applications such as Outlook and Exchange, provides insight into utilization so that IT administrators have a better idea of when a user needs to be upgraded.

That ability to gather information for trending and capacity planning is what early users at Carnival Cruise Lines hopes to exploit, according to Doug Eney, vice president of information systems engineering in Miami, Fla.

Microsoft also added a third level of desktop monitoring for super users such as high volume stock traders.

Systems Center Operations Manager 2007 also adds a new audit collection services capability for compliance auditing and Microsoft added a new set of management pack authoring tools to allow customers to easily create custom management packs.

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