In tandem with the release of Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2005, Microsoft will release a management server suite in late 2004 called Microsoft System Center 2005. System Center 2005 bundles MOM 2005, Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003, and a unique reporting tool. MOM 2005 is the company's latest operations management server, helping administrators stay on top of their systems' health and performance while providing a centralized infrastructure for responding to problems. SMS 2003, meanwhile, is Microsoft's Change and Configuration Management (CCM) and software deployment server for midsized-to-large enterprises, providing asset management, patch automation, and software deployment capabilities. System Center will provide Microsoft-based shops with a single-license solution. Here's what you need to know about System Center 2005.

System Center Reporting Server 2005
In the past, many Microsoft-oriented enterprises chose to roll out MOM and SMS individually, but they couldn't integrate the state information from both these systems into simple, cohesive reports. So with System Center 2005, Microsoft is adding the System Center Reporting Server 2005, which analyzes the incompatible data back ends behind both MOM and SMS and generates reports that include the operations information from MOM and the CCM information from SMS. Built on top of Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services, System Center Reporting Server 2005 can also be used for data mining and analysis purposes.

Recommendations
System Center 2005 will have the largest effect in Microsoft-based organizations. The first version of System Center is little more than a bundle of existing products, but like the initial version of Microsoft Office, future versions will offer an integrated data back end and, presumably, a more comprehensive feature set. Still, the product's reporting engine is a nice feature and a compelling freebie for businesses that might have otherwise rolled out SMS and MOM separately.