MMS 2009 : Day 2 - System Center Online Desktop Manager

We recently spoke with Brad Anderson, General Manager of the Management and Services Division at Microsoft, to ask him about some of the news that came out of the recent Microsoft Management Summit (MMS 2009). We've posted the second half of this two-part interview below (read part one here.)

Some of the highlights of the second day of MMS included news that the next version of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) would be available soon after the release of Windows 7 this fall, and that System Center Configuration Manager 2007 SP2 would be available sometime this summer. A community technology preview (CTP) of System Center Service Manager will also be available by June or July. Perhaps the most noteworthy MMS announcement was news of the upcoming availability of System Center Online Desktop Manager, which provides IT management capabilities in the form of online services. Microsoft didn't specify an exact release date System Center Online Desktop Manager, but did indicate that it should be available for beta testing by the end of 2009.

Brad Anderson: OK, day two, client, and like I mentioned, it's all about a continuation like I said of last year: user-centric client computing, talking about the updates we're releasing, and talking about the tangible progress on that vision. We'll talk about the key trends in the environment, the key trends really driving how management is changing around things like: you've got a very tech-savvy set of individuals, Gen Y, who are now entering the workforce. These are individuals who have been using PCs since they were able to walk. They have a different set of expectations about how they want to integrate with technology, how they want to be a part of IT, and how they get their work done.

We're seeing things like an explosion of end-user devices. If you go back a decade ago, desktop management was pretty simple. There was a desktop, and there was pretty much a one-to-one mapping of a user to a desktop, it was well connected, it was a relatively easy environment to manage. Now, users want to be put on stuff across all their devices, whether it be a corporate device, a personal device, a kiosk, a PC or laptop at home, they are really demanding that ability to be productive, and that is driving some interesting challenges for IT on how they enable that but at the same timeframe deliver on the things that are key to them, such as security and ensuring that they are compliant.

So what we are going to be talking about will be framed in this way: in order to deliver on this user-centric client computing vision, which is putting the user at the center of everything we do, there are three key areas of innovation. One, you have to have a modern client, and we'll go into detail about what's coming in Windows 7 and how Windows 7 has really been architected to enable this user-centric client computing. We're going to talk about the different ways that you can access applications, and this is where virtualization really comes into play.

We'll talk about hardware virtualization with Virtual PC, application virtualization with App-V, how the Kidaro application from a year ago on a proxy called MED-V is coming into play. How presentation virtualization with Windows Terminal Server and our partnership with Citrix--how all three of these types of virtualization are going to be used to enable user-centric client computing, and then we'll talk specifically about VDI. If you think about VDI, it's a combination of the three. How we give a consistent way of managing your physical and your virtual access through System Center Configuration Manager, and how that becomes the unifying point where all three of these kinds of virtualization can be accessed in the same way, and users given access to the application in the best way across that.

We're going to be demonstrating some new capabilities in Windows 7, and we're going to show some of the integration work we've done in System Center Configuration Manager, specifically Service Pack 2 which will ship within 90 days of Windows 7 shipping. And Service Pack 2 is where we'll have the compatibility support for Windows 7. And actually what we're going to do here is show how efficiently we can now migrate a PC from XP or Vista to Windows 7 in a very efficient manner. So we do believe we have a premier set of tools that allows organization to migrate and upgrade their environments from one version of Windows to another, we're actually going to give a demonstration where we update 20 laptops in the audience across wireless in just a matter of minutes.

That's going to be a powerful demo, whereas in the past, we've staged where we've had a wall of PCs, at the push of the button we updated those, but now we're going to have these laptops out in the audience sitting on wireless. And we're going to update them, including preserving the 4GB of user saved data that each one of those laptops has. And to give you an idea, it takes 19 minutes to upgrade all of those. It's very efficient.

Jeff James: I'm sure the Kidaro acquisition was a very specific part of that demonstration?

Brad Anderson: It is, actually at the end, because what we talk about is in order for an organization to upgrade their PCs, there are four big buckets of work they have to do. One is to identify what hardware and applications they have on their environment. If you ask an organization how many applications they have, they'll usually give you a number that's about 20 percent of what they really have. So, within System Center Configuration Manager we have the tools that help customers identify what their hardware is, what their applications are, and then the compatibility with the hardware and the apps with Windows 7.

So that's kind of bucket 1 and 2: identify what you have, understand the compatibility. Bucket 3 is all about actually getting \[assets\] deployed out to your PCs. Getting the images deployed down, reporting back the status and identify the problems and whether you want to troubleshoot those. Then the 4th bucket is really making sure that when the user logs onto Windows 7, everything they need to get their job is there, and that's where the Kidaro acquisition comes in and plays a large role. We worked really hard to ensure compatibility, but no matter how hard we try there are subsets of applications that, for whatever reason, don't work on any new version of the operating system we've released. And what Kidaro allows us to do is simply manage that, so when a user clicks on an icon that we know has a compatibility issue with Windows 7, it automatically sends up a VM in the back of it and all the user sees is the application. And it allows organizations to upgrade, even if they have an application or two that has a compatibility issue with Windows 7 because in the background we set up an XP operating system, but all the user sees is the app.

So, literally the Kidaro acquisition was specifically done to help address this specific challenge for customers. We're then going to show, as a part of that 2007 SP2 demo where we talked about the laptops, we're going to show the additional integration with the vPro capabilities from Intel. So, one of the interesting things about that demo is that we will remotely wake those laptops up using the Wake-on-LAN capabilities shipped with vPro. And that will be done across wireless.

We're then going to talk about some of the things we're doing in Service Manager. If you think about what Microsoft has historically done, we've released some great technology, great products. We started with desktop management, moved to server management, expanded on those, and what we're doing with Service Manager is giving the ability to also manage the people and process capabilities, along with what we've done in the past. So we think of this as expanding and rounding out the System Center portfolio, and giving this integrated platform, Service Manager, that integrates with the rest of System Center that gives you the ability to manage change management into that problem, with the CMDB and all of the pieces that really glue the whole System Center suite together.

We'll be talking about a new offer we're going to put in the market called the System Center Client Suite. The System Center Client Suite is a combination of Configuration Manager, Operations Manager, DPM (Data Protection Manager), and Service Manager. So we'll be talking about this integrated suite of technology that will be made available. Configuration Manager, the majority of our customers get that from what we call the Core CAL, which is part of the enterprise agreement, and then the other three will be made a part of what we call the Enterprise CAL.

And so there will be a very easy way for customers to now get the entire suite of System Center for their client in an integrated manner, not only from how the technology integrates, but from packaging and pricing.

We'll announce System Center Online, and we'll announce System Center Online is built on the same infrastructure that Windows Update is built on. As people think about moving to these online offerings, we want to make sure they have a highly reliable, secure, scalable infrastructure, and when you think about that, Windows Update last month updated more than 615 million PCs around the world; arguably one of the most scalable services and largest of services in the world. And we built on top of that and extended it to also be able to do things like asset inventory, asset intelligence and inventory, monitoring, host protection with the integration of the Forefront host protection assets, software updates, remote assistance, and then policy configuration on the cloud. That's what will make up the first version of System Center Online Desktop Manager.

We're going to show the admin experience of it all integrated with the rest of the online offerings from Microsoft. And the actual admin experience of the Silverlight app that is accessible from any browser in the world.

We'll talk about the road map of that, how it's going to be going into a veil with a select number of customers, we'll extend that to a very broad public offering in the summer, with the release of this being in the first half of 2010, and from a road map perspective we will be releasing new updates of that every six months from that point forward, so we'll be able to rapidly expand the capabilities on that, like software distribution, directory federation, delegation of authority, and some of the other pieces. Some of the largest enterprises in the world will be looking at using System Center Online.

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