Happy 20th Birthday System Center!

Happy 20th Birthday System Center!

If my normal, daily aches and pains weren't enough, the reminder that System Center is 20 years old today really makes me feel my age.

So, yeah. Wow. 20 years.

Through a post on the ConfigMgrDogs blog, I was reminded that today marks the day that System Center was born. SMS (Systems Management Server) 1.0 released on November 7th in 1994. And, I was there – from the beginning.

In 1994 I took a job with a large, multi-national accounting firm as a HelpDesk/Network Admin. You might not remember, but during the 1990's, the economy was just as strained as it is today. Jobs were tough to come by so I was extremely thankful to be employed. On top of that, in the specific office that I worked for, there were considerable layoffs in the IT group. In an office of 500 employees, our IT staff was pared down to 3 people and we were struggling to support the user base, local and corporate technology project demands, and the infrastructure. We needed to figure out some way of supporting the end users effectively and efficiently, still have time to keep up on our technology requirements, and somehow keep a home life.

On a whim, I deployed SMS 1.0 to the entire office over a weekend. Installed the server and stuck the SMS client installation in login scripts so it would install on Monday morning. This one decision truly changed our lives. We were able to support each and every user from a central console using Remote Control (who remembers the RC gold key?) for support and software deployment for application requests and minor OS adjustments (script deployment). We were able to satisfy every user request without having to travel to their desk.

So, this was a work-life changing event. But, even more – it changed my life – completely.

SMS introduced me to automation and centralized management and it really stuck. I can honestly say that it was that Saul-to-Paul moment for me in my professional life. I totally got systems management and knew then that that's where I wanted my focus to be. My life changed dramatically after that. I became an online columnist for Swynk.com (remember that?), started writing books, eventually started a little thing called myITforum.com (which was solely focused on SMS), and helped kick-off the event that eventually came to be known as the Microsoft Management Summit.

All of this (and more) from just a simple deployment of SMS 1.0 way back in 1994.

My story goes on and on, but so does System Center's. For System Center, it started with SMS, expanded when Microsoft acquired MOM from NetIQ in 2000 (which was later renamed to System Center Operations Manager), and just keep stream rolling from there. Today, System Center Configuration Manager has almost 85% of the on-premises endpoint management market, and Microsoft continues to integrate the other System Center suite products into its Azure Cloud services. A full suite a products, System Center is the most comprehensive management solution in the industry.

Through my introduction to the world of System Center, I've met some of the best, brightest, smartest, and most capable people in the world. Many of my best friendships have culminate from the wonderful, huge community that grew up around the original SMS. SMS has given me so much. It's allowed me to travel the world, speak at hundreds of conferences and user groups, and just given so many opportunities for which I'm truly thankful.

So happy birthday System Center! We've had an awesome ride together. And, in a way, I feel like it's my birthday, too. Here's to many more for both of us.

So, where were you when System Center was born? Has System Center had a monumental impact on your professional life? Are you still using it today? Is there a product that made a similar impact in your career?

Let me know.


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