DSI strategy will force Microsoft to support rivals

Microsoft wrapped up its IT forum in Copenhagen last week by singing the praises of new management tools for reducing IT...

Microsoft wrapped up its IT forum in Copenhagen last week by singing the praises of new management tools for reducing IT complexity, but to deliver the new strategy it may have to show a greater willingness to work with platforms from other companies.

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates kicked off the forum by painting a broad picture of how the company's Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI) could streamline the deployment and management of distributed systems. Microsoft bills DSI as a cross-industry initiative for co-operating on business method modelling and process automation as a way to speed up development cycles and slash IT costs.

A handful of new management tools have been rolled out under the DSI banner, including Microsoft Operations Manager 2005, an event and performance management tool for Windows Server System, and the public beta of Windows Update Services, a tool that allows administrators to control and automate the deployment of Windows updates.

However, a series of partner announcements underlined Microsoft's need to collaborate with other IT suppliers.

For example, it unveiled a partnership and minority investment in platform integration provider Vintela. Under the deal, Vintela will offer a product that extends Microsoft Operations Manager 2005 to Unix and Linux environments.

Microsoft also revealed it had been working with Sybase subsidiary iAnywhere to integrate System Management Server 2003 with iAnywhere's mobile device manager. The integration will allow companies to manage and secure non-Windows PCs, laptops, handhelds and smartphones as well as Windows devices.

While the partnerships were just footnotes in Gates's address, some analysts said that Microsoft's reaching out to other platforms constituted the real news. 

"These new tools show that Microsoft is willing to step up to other environments and support a heterogenous management strategy," said RedMonk analyst James Governor.

He described the moves as Microsoft "cracking open the door to supporting other environments instead of just looking through the keyhole". However, he also predicted that IT users would be the ones to shoulder the door open by demanding more support from Microsoft for their various systems.

Given Microsoft's new emphasis on management tools, analysts said the company would have to be a gracious host to other platforms.

Ovum research director Neil Macehiter said recent partnerships, such as the one with Dell to provide a single tool for hardware and software updates, showed Microsoft was savvy about the need to broaden its reach to make DSI work.

Macehiter believes that Microsoft must embrace rivals as much as partners for DSI to be a success.

Scarlet Pruitt writes for IDG News Service

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