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Microsoft Grows Its Grand Plan

The technique Microsoft and EMC hope will propel them to the top of the IT management ladder could take on a life of its own, analysts say. If it does, end users may achieve a bit of the combined heterogeneous system, storage, and network management capabilities that have proven so elusive in the past.

Let's start at the top: As part of this week's Microsoft Management Summit confab in San Diego, Redmond released new versions of its key management platforms. The highlights:

  • The vendor's Microsoft Operations Manager (aptly named MOM) has given way to a new flagship called Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007. This is the console Microsoft has been peddling as the first instance of Service Modeling Language (SML). More on that in a minute. It will be generally available April 1. Pricing was unavailable at press time, though MOM began at about $6,099 for support of 10 devices.
  • Microsoft's System Management Server (SMS), a product designed to configure, patch, and update software on servers and desktops, has become Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007. It went into a second beta in February. No pricing yet though the SMS predecessor starts at $1,219 for 10 devices.

The SML that's debuted in the new Operations Manager is a language for modeling networks, applications, servers, and storage devices to the management system. This means that any vendor's wares can be incorporated for management by the Operations Manager, providing the same SML is used to define them.

Take EMC, for instance: Its Smarts software now has a bidirectional adapter to feed information into the Operations Manager. (See Microsoft Calls on EMC Smarts .) (Previously, Smarts could only accept data from Microsoft's MOM and use it to create reports on overall performance.)

Microsoft and EMC, along with CA, Cisco, Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, and Sun, have submitted SML to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) for standardization. SML uses extensible markup language (XML) to create the models needed for management, hence the outreach to W3C. At the same time, though, there's talk that SML has also been designed with standards like the DMTF's Web Services for Management (WS-Management) specification announced last year.

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