Microsoft High on New Service Desk Offering

Q&A: Bob Muglia discusses Microsoft's plan to get IT shops to switch to its approach.

News that Microsoft will add a service desk offering to its growing line of Systems Center management tools raised more than a few eyebrows at the Microsoft Management Summit in San Diego April 25. As a Johnny-come-lately into the service desk arena, Microsoft will have an uphill battle persuading large IT shops that already have a significant investment in existing service desk offerings, such as BMCs Remedy and HPs Peregrine service desks, to go with its new approach. But Bob Muglia, senior vice president of Microsofts server and tools unit, believes Microsofts approach will generate interest. Muglia discussed Microsofts plan with eWEEK Senior Editor Paula Musich.

Whats your plan for selling your forthcoming service desk in a mature market with a large installed base of existing products and a significant investment on the part of customers?

Many companies have substantial investments in service desks, but we know the level of dissatisfaction with those is pretty high. For small companies with no investment, our product will be straightforward to adopt and have it integrate deeply. It will integrate with existing service desks out there over time.

All service desks have a configuration management database. We couldnt build ours until [the System Definition Model] matured to the point where we can tie all the processes together. Otherwise you have silos for different [management] functions. The service desk [in general] is supposed to tie those together, but you cant today. But we think what were doing is very different. Some [enterprises] that have a big investment will move eventually. Satisfaction [with existing service desk systems] is really low, they are expensive, and the results [customers] are getting are less than optimum.

The virtualization manager—Carmine—is interesting. Is that how Microsoft plans to make money on virtualization, since its going to embed that capability into its operating system?

The biggest pain point customers have is that they have to create a set of images for each virtual system. Carmine is a management tool focused on image management for virtualized systems. Provisioning is part of it, and it will integrate with SMS in its first release. It will [enter] beta testing later this year and ship in 2007. We will be talking more about it very, very soon.

As far as making money on virtualization, we have a way of making money by selling operating systems with virtualization. We have a standard [license] that allows for one session, and an enterprise [license] allows four sessions. Virtualization is a feature we care a lot about. But we will sell Carmine.

Last year Microsoft at the Summit talked a lot about managing heterogeneous environments, and [CEO] Steve Ballmer demonstrated during his keynote managing a [Sun Microsystems] Solaris server. What proof points do you have to show for the progress over the last year toward further management of heterogeneous systems?

[Web Services Management] being ratified as a standard by the [Distributed Management Task Force] is a very big deal for us. It is a core industry standard. Weve made the decision to work with standards bodies on [System Definition Model], so that will become a standard eventually. And we have a bunch of partners [who bring heterogeneous management to the table]. The great thing about WS Management is that it allows for some level of heterogeneous management. The Sun system demo last year [used WS Management].

Isnt there some overlap and therefore competition between the WS Management specification and the Web Services Distributed Management specification, backed by HP and others?

There is a path to resolution for the interoperability of WSDM and WS Management. here will be WSDM extensions. With WS Management you have layered specifications. WS Management will be the base, and there will be extensions as another specification that sits on top of WS Management that provides unification. Tivoli [and others] will find it interesting. The extensions will take 12 to 18 months before going through the ratification process.

Which standards body will Microsoft go to with SDM?

We dont know yet where we will take SDM, but since were [DMTFs Common Information Model] based, it seems logical.


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