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Microsoft puts management, storage under one roof

Microsoft will soon discuss the shift of System Center from a single product to a product family that unifies several key enterprise technologies.

This week, Microsoft plans to offer new details about System Center, which is no longer a single product but an overarching brand label for all of Microsoft's management and storage products.

At the Microsoft Management Summit 2005 conference, Microsoft will also discuss its Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI), as well as provide some details about the next version of Systems Management Server (SMS).

You should think of [ System Center] the same way you think of [IBM] Tivoli or [HP]OpenView …

Ben Matheson, Microsoft group product manager


Microsoft's System Center products will include Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2005, SMS 2003 and System Center Reporting Manager 2005, which combines data from MOM and SMS into one report.

The first product to carry the System Center brand name, the Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager, formerly referred to as Data Protection Server, was released as a public beta this week, along with a MOM management pack. The disk-based backup server product is scheduled to be released by the end of the year.

"About a year ago they released plans to deliver a System Center product," said Microsoft group product manager Ben Matheson. "It has morphed into being a product family as opposed to being a single product, and next week at the Microsoft Management Summit, they're going to release in more detail what the System Center road map is."

Similar to Tivoli and OpenView approach

Eventually, MOM and SMS will also be brought under the System Center umbrella, Matheson said. "You should think of it the same way you think of [IBM] Tivoli or OpenView by [Hewlett-Packard Co.]".

Microsoft has previously said that the next wave of SMS and MOM releases, plus new capacity planning tools and new integrated tools for mid-sized businesses, will come in the 2006-08 timeframe.

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The background on System Center tech topic: Systems management

Next week, Microsoft will expand on its two-year-old Dynamic Systems Initiative, the long-term, multibillion dollar effort to design software that has inherent knowledge built in to make automated management easier.

For DSI to work, Microsoft is creating a unified software architecture using a System Definition Model, which is an XML-based blueprint that captures and unifies the operational requirements of applications with data center policies, serving as an explicit contract between development, deployment and operations across the IT lifecycle, according to Microsoft.

Waiting for the Longhorn logjam to clear

By most estimates, DSI is still a long way off, particularly since Longhorn, the next version of Windows, probably won't be out until 2007. So, it's likely that DSI will follow that release, experts said.

"I think Microsoft has come to the realization that there is one more SMS and one more MOM that has to come out before they get close to what they were talking about regarding DSI," said Peter Pawlak, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, a Kirkland, Wash., consulting firm.

So far, several Microsoft products, including MOM 2005 and Virtual Server 2005, support DSI, as well as two SMS 2003 feature packs introduced in November.

The System Center Data Protection Server will also meet DSI standards. "We plan to comply with and support the systems definition model," Microsoft's Matheson said. "Right now, we comply with DSI by having a MOM pack."

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