April 23, 2001, 2:45 PM — Microsoft next month will begin laying the groundwork for an open and extensible management platform system it hopes to build around its servers and applications.
The platform is Microsoft's first serious attempt to offer IT executives a management suite for Windows operating systems and applications.
While Microsoft acknowledges it is only a first step to building an object-oriented management environment, critics say there are a lot more steps to come before the platform becomes reality. And there needs to be a lot more explaining about how the environment will be built and how it will plug into other management platforms, they say.
The first step comes next month, when Microsoft will unveil the first release -- the final beta test before general availability -- of its Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM), which is designed to monitor servers. The next step will be the release of the new version, code-named Topaz, of its desktop management software System Management Server. The beta is scheduled for this fall.
MOM is an event and performance monitoring tool licensed from NetIQ. It will be used to monitor systems such as file/print, Internet Information Server and Active Directory. Microsoft will develop some 20 modules and offer a tool kit for developers.
But the first version, to be released late this summer, is not much more than a rebranding of the NetIQ product -- Operations Manager.
But it represents the first plug-in to a management platform Microsoft is creating to support .Net, which includes a set of interconnected servers for online software delivery. The platform will include features built into the operating system and plug-ins such as MOM.
"MOM's primary goal is management of server components and mission-critical workstations," says Michael Emanuel, senior product manager for management technology at Microsoft. "The goal is for it to be part of a larger management system." Emanual says Microsoft will create a "managed Windows" that can be plugged into a larger enterprise management system.
Critics say it is a tall order.
"They have to expose APIs and break the product into components that can be plugged into other environments. That is the hard part," says Cory Ferengul, an analyst with Meta Group. "They need to get the components right to make use of the system's various parts and data."
Ferengul says MOM is part of an "incredibly ambitious attempt to build an objectoriented management environment." He questions whether Microsoft can embed in the operating system something similar to what Computer Associates and Tivoli have been trying to do for a decade. The other question is whether Microsoft plans to compete with those vendors.
Emanuel says the company will take a co-existence view. But he added that there is no reason why a mainframe cannot be managed from a Windows management platform.