What's on the Horizon for MOM and SMS
MOM 2004 -- a major overhaul also rolled out at the Management Summit -- will meet one big item on administrators' wish lists by "cutting deployment time from days to hours," Emanuel reports. Other new features to look for include a new operator console -- with built-in alert views, topology views, and "context-sensitive diagnostics" -- plus a new set of knowledge-based management packs.
Microsoft has actually already taken the first step toward a self-healing approach with the release of next-generation MOM XMPs (extended systems management) packs for Microsoft Exchange, BizTalk Server, and Active Directory, reports Emanuel.
As previously reported on CrossNodes, some of Microsoft's applications groups -- including Exchange, BizTalk, and Active Directory -- have worked closely with the MOM product group, lending their knowledge of particular applications to help determine which events should be exposed for MOM monitoring.
Microsoft's partners are also at work on tools to supplement the existing MOM and SMS environments. AmberPoint has just integrated its management environment -- already available for J2EE -- with MOM for crossplatform administration, says Ed Horst, AmberPoint's VP of marketing.
BigFix already makes automated patch management tools for Windows; however, a new product release slated for April will add a number of new features, including "much enhanced scalability" and more finegrained administrative rights.
"Also, we've actually fixed a lot of the problems with SMS," according to Larsen. The new release from BigFix will check to find out not just whether remote control software is installed, but whether or not it's running.
Is Microsoft's Approach Really That Unique?
Other systems makers -- including IBM, HP, and Sun -- have all been promoting their own visions of the "self-healing" OS. Is Microsoft's concept really all that unique?
Emanuel maintains that there are many possible pivot points for systems management. "We are making the application the point at which you pivot -- as opposed to a management company, for example, which would make the management system the point at which you pivot," he elaborates.
"When DMI reaches full fruition, the XML schema will richly describe the application. It will contain the full step-by-step instructions for the services needed by the application. This is innovative."
Essentially, the application will live in a "cloud" of services. "We've been asking, 'What do I need to do to the underlying application to make it a dynamic system?'" If DMI goes as planned, applications written with Visual Basic will eventually be able to tell the "cloud" how many Web farms or database servers are required, for instance. ADS will then automatically bring up and configure the needed servers, while WSMR and the virtual server will automatically reconfigure and reallocate system resources.
DMI also represents an attempt by Microsoft to move beyond "Windows-centric" management, contends Emanuel.
Industry Reaction Mixed
So far, though, industry reaction to Microsoft's plan is quite mixed. IBM's Brill, for example, disparages the emerging Windows 2003/Greenwich/Exchange Server 2003 environment as "the first release of a second-generation product."
"We've tried to focus Notes/Domino on messaging management," Brill adds. Instead, Microsoft is providing 'some sort of hybrid systems administration/messaging director' environment, or something."
"Microsoft and IBM are deathly enemies in some areas, but they seem to have figured out how to work together in others," notes AmberPoint's Horst.
Winning Over the Naysayers?
As Chillarege sees it, to win over the naysayers, Microsoft needs to add more stability to the Windows product, while at the same time continuing to push forward with innovative features.
In the next edition of this series, we'll drill down into Microsoft's chances for gaining more traction in enterprise administration.