Microsoft Signs First Systems Management OEM

F5 will create a management appliance based on Microsoft's Systems Center Operations Manager technology.

In a departure from its go-to-market strategy for management software, Microsoft on March 13 said that it will OEM its Systems Center Operations Manager 2007 software to application delivery controller vendor F5 Networks.

The management software, formerly called Microsoft Operations Manager, or MOM, will form the foundation for a new management appliance F5 Networks intends to deliver late in the third quarter of this year.

The management appliance, dubbed ControlPoint, will give F5 Big-IP Controller users visibility into the performance of F5s ADCs as well as into the performance and bandwidth utilization of applications flowing through the F5 devices.

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"Our customers have been trying to get insights into how those devices are performing, as well as how the applications are performing across the infrastructure," said Warren Talbot, product manager for F5 Networks, in Seattle.

Not only will ControlPoint help customers understand the performance of the Big-IP Controllers, it will enable them to determine which applications consume the most bandwidth and determine "what I can do about it," said Talbot.

The management appliance, which will integrate Systems Center Operations Manager 2007 through F5s iControl application programming interface, will also provide insight into how the application is performing from the end users perspective and provide Web analytics on how the Web application is being used.

Beyond the license revenue Microsoft will get from the relationship, the first-of-its-kind OEM deal for the company will help to prove that Systems Center Operations Manager 2007 can provide more end-to-end service monitoring across Web applications "front-ended by a load balancer or WAN optimization controller," said Carl Coken, director of strategic alliances in Microsofts Management and Solutions unit in Redmond, Wash.

Through the performance data captured by ControlPoint, "we are able to get that application insight for large Internet data center applications that we couldnt get through other means," he added. To date, Microsofts management software has focused primarily on managing Microsoft Windows-only environments such as Exchange.

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Although it was F5 Networks that approached Microsoft on the OEM relationship, Microsoft is not averse to forming other OEM relationships, Coken said.

"We are pursuing other OEM opportunities for Operations Manager and other products," said Coken.

For customers that already have Microsoft Operations Manager 2007, F5 Networks will offer a stand-alone management pack that can plug into the Microsoft software to provide monitoring and management of F5 devices.

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