At the second annual Microsoft Management Summit, which was held in Las Vegas, Nevada, last week, Microsoft made numerous public announcements related to its enterprise management strategy. Microsoft announced three new products that are of special interest to the IT administrator: Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2004, Microsoft System Center, and the beta release of Automated Deployment Services (ADS) for Windows Server 2003.

MOM, a server-monitoring solution, improves the availability, performance, and security of Windows–based networks and applications. Depending on the configuration, MOM can provide central monitoring and automatic problem resolution for networks of tens to thousands of computers, continuously monitoring user actions, application software, servers, and desktop computers that run Microsoft Windows 2000 or later. Microsoft said that its objective with MOM 2004 is to help make Windows the best-managed platform that provides the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO) for its enterprise customers. In fact, IDC, a technology research firm, produced findings from a recent survey that shows that the Windows platform is less expensive than the Linux platform--even though Linux is technically free--because Windows is easier to manage and operate than Linux.

Microsoft promises that MOM 2004 will enhance the existing MOM product in many areas, including reducing the time required to deploy and configure MOM. According to Microsoft, "MOM 2004 will contain many customer-requested features, including auto-alert resolution, state monitoring, topological views, an intuitive task-based operator console, broader management pack support, and better reporting capability."

With Microsoft System Center, Microsoft intends to provide customers complete application and system management for any size enterprises. System Center is founded on Microsoft's Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI), which is designed to provide simplicity, automation, and flexibility in the datacenter across the IT environment. Microsoft says that System Center will provide solutions for enterprise management scenarios, including desktops, laptops, PDAs, applications, and servers. In his keynote address, Brian Valentine, senior vice president for Microsoft's Windows Division, said of System Center, "Our goal is to deliver a comprehensive management solution to our enterprise customers, reducing the costs of operating the Windows environment."

The beta 1 release of ADS for Windows Server 2003 is a powerful new server-provisioning and administration tool that provides key technology for DSI, which unifies hardware, software, and service vendors around software architecture. Key ADS features include highly scalable automated server deployment; encoding of operational practices and standards; flexible image creation, editing, and scripting tools; and a reliable script-based administration framework.

The ADS beta became available last week to early adopter customers and is expected to be broadly available in second quarter 2003. More information about ADS is available at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/evaluation/news/bulletins/ads.mspx .

I find these new products very exciting as they relate to Microsoft's enterprise management strategy. I've said for many years that Microsoft ships great OSs and platforms, but not the tools to manage the OSs and platforms. Microsoft appears to have recognized its weakness in this area and is fixing it, which is good news for all IT administrators.