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Microsoft strides towards manageability

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It is fair to say that for the first decade or more of its existence, Microsoft paid comparatively little attention to the manageability of its increasingly diverse range of offerings. Indeed, as the company's products grew in their capabilities they became ever more widely deployed in almost every area of business. However, such expansion was not without its headaches, notably in the considerable effort on the part of skilled IT staff to keep the tools working safely and effectively. Fortunately, over the last few years Microsoft has committed itself to making its software easier, and therefore cheaper, to manage.

At its recent IT Forum in Copenhagen, Kirill Tatarinov, Vice President of Windows and Enterprise Management, once more made it clear that the manageability of the company's many offerings is very much at the heart of all software development. He reiterated that it is now the responsibility of the authors of each product to ensure that manageability characteristics are built into the software from the ground up.

Indeed, beyond this basic tooling of applications, considerable effort is now being expended on Microsoft's Dynamic Systems Initiative, known within the company as DSI. At the core of DSI is a concept that seeks to generate a model for the lifecycle of any system or application used by "information workers". Fundamentally, DSI is tasked with linking line of business managers, the users of information systems and their service requirements with IT management and system developers.

DSI stands on three main pillars. The first is the goal that all applications be "designed for operations". As has been stated this includes the requirement that code monitoring and performance capabilities be built into business applications from the ground up alongside better management facilities. Secondly, DSI is charged with delivering an "operationally aware platform" that has the capabilities to monitor and actively manage the platform. The third component is centred on the "intelligent management" of systems and will include rapidly developing capabilities such as virtualisation and visualisation.

In effect, DSI is looking to make Microsoft based systems easier for people to set policies to monitor and manage system usage in a more dynamic fashion than has heretofore been possible. It will rely on code developers and software architects building in active self-awareness that should allow system resources to be dynamically allocated to meet desired service level criteria.

These capabilities will be introduced into all areas of Microsoft's solution sets from project planning and system development tools, including Visual Studio 2005, up through the operating systems and middleware platforms and into the rapidly developing management tools including SMS and MOM.

The System Definition Model (SDM), upon which much of the manageability efforts will be centred, is described as being a "strategic platform". In Microsoft speak, this means that SDM is an area that will be highly visible to the senior management team.

It is interesting to note that Microsoft has set itself priorities to make the Windows environment more manageable and to improve its partner manageability ecosystem (including the likes of HP OpenView, Tivoli, UniCenter etc.). The goal of making more money from its own management tools (SMS and MOM) comes, apparently, a distant third in consideration.

It is encouraging to see that Microsoft is committed to making its platforms easier, and therefore more cost effective, to run. In many companies the daily administration of IT can account for over 70 per cent of all IT costs.

Anything that frees up more money and that makes scarce IT resources available to develop new IT systems that delivery new business benefits is to be welcomed. Microsoft is pushing forward in its journey to make the most widely deployed tools easier to administer over their considerable lifetimes. There is a way yet to go, but Microsoft continues to take positive strides on the road to manageability.

Copyright © 2004, IT-Analysis.com

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