Microsoft's SMS gets a boost

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LEBANON, N.H. - IT managers who run Microsoft's System Management Server but long for better asset management tools can now integrate software from Tally Systems.

Tally has released Version 1.1 of its TS.Census asset management software, which includes integration with Microsoft's SMS software, which is used for tracking hardware and software inventories and for electronically distributing and installing software.

Asset management is a technology that helps IT organizations accurately take inventory of their hardware and software assets, as well as track those assets through their life cycle. The data can help companies better control software license compliance, track aging computers and manage lease agreements on hardware.

At first glance, TS.Census and SMS seem to overlap in their capabilities to take inventory of hardware and software running on a network. However, TS.Census can provide a much more fine-tuned evaluation of assets than SMS. For example, SMS may describe a network computer as an IBM-compatible machine, while TS.Census can add the make, model and serial number.

"SMS can be complicated to use and the inventory data often difficult to interpret," says Patricia Adams, an analyst with Gartner Group in Stamford, Conn. "Customers often say SMS returns too much data, and it is not really designed for taking inventory."

Adams says the integration between the two products means SMS users will have to introduce a second tool into the mix, and that is a scenario that Gartner tries to steer clients away from.

Tally is trying to reduce that issue by integrating the data TS.Census collects directly into SMS repositories. Once data is exported from TS.Census, it appears as standard SMS inventory data. The integration with SMS replaces an add-on module that let users share data between the predecessor to TS.Census, called Net.Census, and SMS. The data, however, had to be maintained within each application.

"SMS users have a single interface to discover assets, analyze data and do reporting," says Sarah Clerkin, product manager for TS.Census.

TS.Census 1.1 also features integration with TS.Asset, which allows analysis of hardware and software assets.

In addition to integration with SMS, Tally Systems has added a software developer's kit so companies can design applications that can tap into the inventory data in TS.Census.

The software developer's kit also supports the creation of Java applets that add Web-based features to TS.Census. The applets can be used to create browser-based forms that technicians can use on an intranet to log information into TS.Census when they are setting up computers or software in the field.

TS.Census runs on Windows NT and 2000, and is priced at $25 per PC for 500 PCs.

Tally: www.tallysystems.com

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