Microsoft Makes Huge Strides in Systems Management

This year's Microsoft Management Summit features Visual Studio 2005 Team System, the first product to incorporate the company's Systems Definition Model; the new OS Feature Deployment Pack for SMS 2003; and discussions of the success and future of the Dyn

When Microsoft launched its Dynamic Systems Initiative two years ago to improve the manageability of its products and the applications that run on its platforms, it talked about fuzzy architectural concepts for building manageability into programs from their initial creation.

Two years later, at this years Microsoft Management Summit, officials highlighted the concrete steps that have been taken to make that fuzzy vision a reality, and outlined the next milestones Microsoft intends to reach in a detailed roadmap.

The cornerstone of the new architecture, the Systems Definition Model, is a schema for developers to use to create operationally aware programs that can monitor their own processes and make information about their state readily consumable by various management applications.

Visual Studio 2005 Team System, being beta tested now and due by years end, is the first product to incorporate the SDM.

"It allows operations people to encode their requirements using SDM, and application architects can express their requirements for the operating environment," said Eric Berg, director of product management in the Windows Management Division in Redmond, Wash.

With SDM in Visual Studio, both sides can codify their requirements and put them into machine code as applications are created, streamlining the collaboration and the process of making applications production-worthy.

To date, all the progress Microsoft has made in making its products more manageable as part of the DSI initiative is in the growing list of MOM (Microsoft Operations Manager) Management Packs.

Today no new or enhanced Microsoft product goes out the door without a MOM Management Pack, said Ron Markezich, Microsofts CIO.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more about Microsoft Operations Manager 2005.

But by moving the management pack schema into SDM, developers "can do a richer job of modeling applications," Berg said. "We can describe complete systems in the SDM schema—almost like a map. We can know the dependencies and see where the problem is and know what piece to fix," Berg said.

Microsoft also made good on its two-year-old promise to automate the deployment of operating systems on bare metal through the new OSD (OS Feature Deployment Pack) for Systems Management Server 2003. CEO Steve Ballmer touted the speed at which OS deployments can be done with the OSD feature during his keynote Wednesday at the MMS. In the "Wall of Fire" demonstration, 100 machines lined up on a wall in the conference hall were shown to be remotely rebuilt, re-imaged and to have had state data restored "in under 10 and a half minutes" during Ballmers keynote, he said.

One SMS user that has worked with the beta version of OSD said she was impressed with its streamlined installation.

"I rebuilt our training room with no problem," said Shane Futcher, SMS analyst at Pension Corp. in Victoria, British Columbia. Once the installation finished, the machines "were ready to be logged on. There was no need to tidy up anything. It copies specific files, so its much smaller and it really cuts down on the size of the image," she added.

/zimages/6/28571.gifRead more here about Microsofts Dynamic Systems Initiative.

In its roadmap for the next deliverables in its DSI initiative, Microsoft officials pledged to deliver three new members of its Systems Center suite. Systems Center, which was originally intended to meld both SMS and MOM into a single product, was changed to accommodate users who wanted the products to be integrated but remain separate, according to Kirill Tatarinov, corporate vice president of the Windows Enterprise Management Division.

Systems Center will this year add the System Center Reporting Manager 2005, System Center Data Protection Manager 2006 and System Center Capacity Planning Manager 2006.

In the 2006/2007 time frame, Microsoft also intends to deliver SMS Version 4, which brings integration with Windows Longhorn and desired-state configuration management. Also due in that time frame is MOM Version 3, which adds service-oriented monitoring and will probably add cause analysis.

In his keynote at MMS, CEO Steve Ballmer acknowledged Microsofts long road to credibility in the systems management space. "Four years ago we were in pretty tough shape. Our products were very, very Version 1.0," he said.

Today, "Microsoft has really changed its reputation with systems management," said David Friedlander, analyst with Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass.

"Microsoft has made huge strides on SMS," said Quinn Obermeyer, manager at Abbott Laboratories in Abbott Park, Ill. "We are now open to SMS for patch management on servers because of the advances theyve made," he added.

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