Microsoft Corp.s dynamic systems initiative has stepped out of the ether, and now is the time for IT managers to start investigating it.
Microsoft is putting flesh on the bones of its five- to 10-year DSI utility computing plan with the release of System Management Server 2003, as is System Management Arts Inc. with its InCharge Connector for MOM 2000.
The general idea behind DSI is to bring application development and IT operations closer together to cut costs, automating the monitoring and management of business systems.
Based on our preliminary work with this initiative, we think IT managers should devote time to ramping up on DSI concepts. Although DSI is obviously in its infancy, the initiatives potential to significantly reduce operating costs means that its worth laying the groundwork now to bring together application developers, network managers and operations staff to learn about DSI.
Based on our tests of InCharge Connector for MOM (Microsoft Operations Manager) 2000, we think IT managers can put together a strategy for dealing with the inevitable alphabet soup of standards as well as the buying decisions that will likely need to be made starting this year.
Between the DSI Web site and Microsofts upcoming Management Summit, to be held in Las Vegas in March, IT managers should now spend a significant amount of time evaluating Microsofts road map.
Utility computing competitors, which often have to work closely together, include Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM and Sun Microsystems Inc. Although HPs Utility Data Center, IBMs Autonomic Computing initiative and Suns N1 initiative are still mostly in the planning stages, its clear that products and services are coalescing.
Of course, it helps to remember that all the vendors couch their offerings in altruistic terms, but not very many will stray far from their roots. Therefore, it is not surprising that Microsofts DSI is focused on wringing maximum productivity out of the companys strong suits—application development processes and operations procedures.
During a recent telephone interview with David Hamilton, director of Microsofts Enterprise Management Division, it became clear that the next version of Visual Studio .Net, code-named Whidbey, will significantly fill out the DSI technology base.
IT managers should also start investigating the work of the ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library), Microsofts favored body for IT best practices.
In fact, delving into ITILs documentation will shed light on what Microsoft thinks is one of the biggest problems in IT management today—the lack of clear processes. The company is betting that bringing application developers and operators together will pay off by lowering the ongoing maintenance costs of using Microsoft products in a heterogeneous data center environment.
After the announcements about DSI that are expected at the Management Summit, IT managers will likely get a hands-on feel for the future when MOM 2004 is released. MOM 2004 is now expected in late June, according to Hamilton.
Guided by a project Microsoft is calling “Whitehorse” and announced early last year, MOM 2004 and other Microsoft products will start to gain an understanding of information developed under the SDM (Systems Definition Model—the acronyms will start to fly as Microsoft drills deeper into DSI).
SDM is Microsofts guide for developing manageable distributed systems. According to Hamilton, IT administrators will get a further glimpse of the earliest stages of SDM when Visual Studio .Net 2004 is shipped later this year. At its basic level, SDM dictates how software and hardware resources are described and viewed from a management point of view.
IT equipment and software companies are feeling the pressure to decrease operational costs; DSI is Microsofts response. As DSI and the numerous related components come together during the next several years, IT administrators who get ready now will be prepared to take advantage of the streamlined, more manageable systems that result.
Senior Analyst Cameron Sturdevant can be reached at email@example.com.