Microsoft ready to spring into management

By John Fontana, Network World |  Development

Microsoft Corp. next month will take its biggest step ever toward supplying a
management platform for its Windows servers and applications.

On Monday night at NetWorld+Interop, the company announced that in June it
will begin shipping its Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM), an event and performance
monitoring tool. The tool can be used to monitor Windows 2000, Active Directory
and Internet Information Server, as well as specific operating system features
such as Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol and Microsoft Transaction Server.
Additional features can be added to monitor SQL Server, Exchange Server and
the other .Net Enterprise Servers.

The first version of the tool, licensed from NetIQ, is the initial step for
Microsoft as it tries to create an object-oriented management platform similar
in concept to those from Computer Associates and Tivoli.

The difference is Microsoft's ambitious attempt to use its operating system
as the foundation for the platform. Critics contend it is a difficult plan to
create in the operating system what others have been working years to perfect
on specialized platforms. But Microsoft officials realize it must do this to
convince users it is serious about playing in the enterprise.

"We have stayed out of management as a major strategic investment,"
says Cliff Reeves, vice president of .Net server product marketing at Microsoft.
"But now our systems are so pervasive, customers are saying, 'You don't
do management, but 40 percent, 60 percent, 80 percent of my environment is Microsoft,
and if you don't manage it who is going to do it?'"

Reeves says it will be Microsoft. "We will build central management in
the operating system. It is no longer described as a feature; it is fundamental."

It's also fundamental to Microsoft's emerging .Net Web services strategy, which
describes the delivery of software over the Internet. It's fundamental because
the .Net infrastructure is now made up of eight servers, with a ninth announced
just last week for Web content management.

"The long-term goal is not to try and provide air cover for managing all
these .Net servers," Reeves says. "The goal is to take whatever number
of servers a customer has and provide management instrumentation, automatic
detection of failures, automatic self-healing and the ability to take pre-emptive
action to avoid problems."

But the initial version of MOM represents not much more than a glimpse of that
future and a rebranding of the NetIQ product, Operations Manager.

In the future, Microsoft hopes to add to the core operating system a set of
hooks to plug in any number of management modules, such as MOM.

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