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Microsoft will update management software

Microsoft is expected to detail features of its forthcoming Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2004 product and preview the beta version of Software Update Services (SUS) 2.0 at a conference in Las Vegas next week.

At its third annual Microsoft Management Summit, the company will also announce a name change for SUS. The 2.0 version of the patch management software will be called Windows Update Services.

More than 2,000 people have registered for the conference - a sell-out crowd, according to David Hamilton, director of Microsoft's Enterprise Management division. Attendees will get details on Microsoft's management product road map and an update on the Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI), its plan for reducing IT complexity by improving software manageability.

"We will be making significant announcements in both strategy and product space," Hamilton said, declining to give any further details ahead of the event. DSI was announced just before last year's Management Summit.

Due out midyear, MOM 2004 will be an update to the MOM 2000 performance management software. In addition to new features such as a graphical systems views and enhanced reporting tools, MOM 2004 has been designed to be easier to deploy than its predecessor, Microsoft said.

With MOM 2004, Microsoft will also refresh all its "management packs" for the software and introduce new packs designed to monitor web services. Management packs are modules that allow MOM users to monitor specific applications or Windows services, such as Exchange or Active Directory.

Microsoft will also give an update on its plans for System Center, which bundles together MOM 2004 with Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003 and is due out in the second half of the year. System Center will be a key element of the DSI plan and combine the change and configuration management capabilities provided by SMS with the management and monitoring functionality of MOM.

Microsoft needs to provide more clarity on the overall management road map, as well as about where System Center fits in and what benefits it is going to bring, said Peter Pawlak, lead analyst at Directions on Microsoft.

"What is the benefit of bundling MOM and SMS? They haven't really spelled that out," he added.
 
An update to SUS is much needed, Pawlak said. "SUS 1.0 was a fairly weak first attempt, and before it will be accepted by savvy systems administrators it needs to have quite a few more capabilities," he said. The first version of SUS was really no more than a way to download patches to a local network and host them there for clients to download; it lacked any intelligence, Pawlak said.

Microsoft has offered SUS at no charge, while SMS 2003 costs $1,219 for the first 10 client access licences.

Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service


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