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Microsoft Updates Management Roadmap

This week, Microsoft is again hosting its annual Management Summit, where it will lay out its plans for the busiest year ever with regards to the company's management products. If you're familiar with the current lineup, which includes such products as Systems Management Server (SMS) and Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM), be prepared for some name changes: All of Microsoft's management are being rebranded under the System Center moniker. But these new products aren't just about rebranding. This year, we're going to see some major changes.

First, about those name changes. MOM is being renamed to System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) and SMS is being renamed to System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM, or as I'm fond of calling it, "scum"). Microsoft says the name changes are all about keeping these interrelated solutions in the same product family, so that customers can quickly and easily how they integrate together. Too, the new name for SMS, SCOM, is more descriptive: This product is really about configuration management, and the new name reflects that.

OK, let's get a bit specific, though it's a big list. Here are some of the product announcements Microsoft will make at the show this week:

SCOM 2007. This product will be finalized in April and shipped to customers soon thereafter. SCOM will provide proactive monitoring of your IT services, including distributed applications, applications, servers, and clients. Like so many Microsoft servers these days, it will be roles-based, especially with regards to security, and self-monitoring. The new SCOM management console utilizes a now-familiar Outlook-like design and integrates with Microsoft's best-practices data so that you don't just get alerts for problems, but also receive information about fixing those problems, right from the console.

SCCM 2007. The big focus this time around is getting all those management packs into the core product while utilizing the new task-based MMC 3.0 management console. Like its predecessor, SCCM 2007 is designed for deploying client software and security updates, and change and configuration management, and Beta 2 was released in February. This product will be finalized in late summer.

System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM) V2. The current version of this disk-based backup solution is targeted at file servers only, but V2 reaches a much broader audience. In V2, DPM will work with both disk and tape storage devices, and will backup Exchange 2003 and 2007, SQL Server 200 and 2005, and SharePoint 2007, in addition to Windows 2003 and Longhorn Server file servers, and XP and Vista based file shares. But the big new news is that DPM V2 will also back up Virtual Server 2005 R2-based virtual servers as well. Beta 2 is expected publicly in April. This product will also be finalized in late summer.

System Center Essentials. This new tool, aimed at mid-sized businesses and also expected in the "Centro" Medium Business Server and next version of SBS, provides a unified console for proactively managing servers, clients, hardware, software, and IT services, while being aimed at the IT generalists who typically work in this market. It's aimed at businesses with up to 30 servers and 500 clients, and includes a simplified, Outlook-like client. SCE recently shipped in release candidate (RC) form. The final version is expected in the next quarter.

System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM). When you consider the suddenly burgeoning family of Microsoft virtualization products--which includes such things as Virtual Server, Virtual PC, SoftGrid, presentation virtualization in "Longhorn" Terminal Services, and the upcoming Windows Server Virtualization (Hypervisor) add-on for Longhorn Server, it makes sense that Microsoft would finally turn its attention to managing virtual machines. VMM will help an organization manage its datacenter-based virtual assets from a central location, and include virtual machine provisioning, resource optimization, and P2V (physical-to-virtual) conversion functionality, all via a MOM/SCCM-type UI with PowerShell-based scripting capabilties. This product will also be finalized in late summer.

System Center "Service Desk". A new product aimed at the service desk, SCSD (not the final name) will provide tools for managing incidents, changes and provisioning, assets, service requests, and internal knowledge bases. It will include a number of report types, progress tracking tools, and integrate with other System Center products. (For example, you can automatically create and escalate incident reports in Service Desk that are based on services monitored by SCOM 2007.) This product will hit public beta in April and be finalized in the first half of 2008.

This article originally appeared in the March 27, 2007 issue of Windows IT Pro UPDATE.

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