Microsoft ready to spring into management

By John Fontana, Network World |  Development

Microsoft says its Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI), an implementation
of the standard Common Information Model (CIM), will become one of those hooks
in the operating system. CIM is a standard way to describe system management
information.

XML and the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) also are key upgrades to the
operating system that provide standard ways to exchange data between applications
and the management framework. Those features are likely to hit their stride
with a version of the operating system codenamed Blackcomb, which will follow
next year's expected shipment of Windows 2002.

On top of the operating system, Microsoft will add MOM; the next version of
System Management Server, codenamed Topaz; and Application Center 2000 for managing
Web farms. Third-party vendors, such as NetIQ, which announced its Extended
Management Packs for MOM on Monday, also will add functionality. Enterprise
users can mix and match those modules to create their own customized system.

MOM's management console will provide a single point of access into all the
different pieces of management software.

"WMI, SMS, MOM, App Center all solve a specific problem, but they need
to share a common architecture," Reeves says.

With MOM, Microsoft will offer two "management packs." The Basic
Pack covers Windows 2000 and Active Directory, and is included in the base $849
per-processor price for MOM. The Advanced Pack adds the .Net servers to the
mix and will be sold separately. It will be priced at $949 per processor.

It all adds up to a platform that will appeal to small or Microsoft-centric
enterprises, according to analysts, who say larger corporations will likely
stick with the heavyweight management packages.

Microsoft officials say their platform will be designed to plug into those
larger platforms. But Microsoft still must provide the application programming
interfaces for that to happen. And critics say a reliance on WMI will require
changes in the way applications are written so as to enable them to plug into
the Microsoft management platform.

To that end, Microsoft last December created the Microsoft Management Alliance,
which is intended to rally third-party vendors around WMI. The alliance now
has 250 members.

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