Gates touts software 'magic' to cut complexity

Offering relief from managing complex, distributed systems, Microsoft Corp. Chief Software Architect Bill Gates took the stage of the IT Forum in Copenhagen Tuesday to introduce a handful of tools and a hatful of promises.

"The magic of software can eliminate this complexity," Gates said in his opening address, amid a cloud of smoke left lingering from the magic show that preceded him on stage.

Microsoft's key for simplifying system management lies in its Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI), which Gates laid out as a long-term vision requiring broad industry cooperation.

DSI is the company's phrase for moving from thinking about individual systems and manual activities to the streamlined creation and maintenance of distributed systems, Gates said. The initiative relies on the automation of tasks, and capabilities such as having applications and hardware tell management software their status, for instance.

Despite some industry criticism that DSI sounds like smoke and mirrors, Gates said that Microsoft is proving it a reality with the introduction this week of new offerings aimed at tackling IT complexity.

Gates announced at the show the public beta of Windows Update Services, a tool that allows administrators to control and automate the deployment of Windows software updates, as well as the worldwide availability of Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2005, and Virtual Server 2005. MOM 2005 gives administrators event and performance management tools for the Windows Server System while Virtual Server provides software testing, development and migration capabilities.

Gates also highlighted a partnership with platform integration software provider Vintela Inc. to extend MOM 2005 to Unix and Linux environments.

The announcements came a day after Microsoft introduced an initiative with Dell Inc. to integrate systems management applications so customers can update their hardware and software with one tool. Gates updated the news Tuesday, saying that Dell will be bundling MOM 2005 Workgroup Edition with Dell PowerEdge servers in 2005.

"Using software to reduce complexity is a very big theme for us," Gates said. "The DSI initiative is the common description that will bring us to the ultimate level of efficiency."

With the speed of hardware and network advances already driving down IT costs, users are looking to software to take them to the next level of innovation, he added.

Looking ahead, Gates expressed enthusiasm for the broad arrival next year of 64-bit computing, giving users more memory and a better ability to cache data. Microsoft is internally testing a 64-bit version of Windows, he said, and also using it to run its Internet search initiative.

"Hardware is not holding us back," Gates said. "It's software that's a problem."

Fortunately, the Microsoft head is in a position to change that.

IT Forum Europe runs through Friday.

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