Dell and Microsoft are working together to integrate their systems management applications to allow customers to update server hardware and software with a single tool.
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Dell's OpenManage 4 change management software will work with Microsoft's Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003 to offer customers a centralised view of all Dell PowerEdge servers on their network.
When customers apply software updates, they will be able to use the integrated application to handle Dell firmware and Bios (Basic Input/Output System) updates at the same time they update their operating system and applications software.
Dell said the integration link, called SMS 2003 Inventory Tool for Dell Updates, will be available in January as a free download on Microsoft's website.
Microsoft Windows Server Division senior vice-president Bob Muglia said the deal with Dell is non-exclusive and that Microsoft would be open to building similar links to systems from other server hardware makers such as IBM and Hewlett-Packard.
Dell chief executive officer Kevin Rollins said Dell's internal use of the integration tool drastically increased the efficiency of its own patching efforts.
"Prior to the integrated tool, Dell support engineers could not patch 100 servers in one night. Now they can do thousands in less than an hour," Rollins said.
Microsoft cast the deal as part of its Dynamic Systems Initiative for reducing IT management complexity.
Stacy Cowley writes for IDG News Service