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Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003 R2 Enters Beta

Microsoft's support for non-Microsoft applications and security improvements in Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003 Release 2 (R2) will expand opportunities for the company and its channel, solution providers said.

On Monday, Microsoft released SMS 2003 R2 into beta testing, and the Redmond, Wash.-based company plans to release the software update and deployment platform upgrade around May, said Felicity McGourty, director of product management in Microsoft’s Windows Enterprise Management Division.

The R2 version will feature a new Inventory Tool for Custom Updates (ITCU), which will allow businesses and partners to automate the deployment of updates for third-party ISV applications and corporate line-of-business applications. For example, ISVs and partners could use the tool to create and publish software update catalogs that could be imported directly into the SMS console.

Currently, it’s possible to package updates in SMS format, but it’s cumbersome, Microsoft said. Giving customers access to numerous catalogs from within the SMS console will slash the time it takes to find updates, repackage them and then deploy and manage them, the company said.

"The news that SMS will support non-Microsoft products is long overdue," said Paul Freeman, CEO of Coast Solutions Group, an Irvine, Calif.-based solution provider. "This has always been a major selling point against SMS. Customers will be very interested in this, as will [ISV competitor] Altiris, since [heterogeneous support] is something that they have used to differentiate themselves from SMS in the market.”

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