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February 21, 2006

Microsoft releases Systems Management Server beta

Posted by David Hunter at 3:45 PM ET.

Press release/Q&A:

With the release of Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003, Microsoft sought to deliver on a lofty goal: To provide enterprises a new level of automation, efficiency and insight into security vulnerabilities when deploying, updating and managing their IT systems.

IT managers took notice. A year after the release of SMS 2003, a Forrester Research survey found that Microsoft was the clear industry leader in client-systems management (CSM) products, with 41 percent of enterprise-scale businesses and 30 percent of small and medium-sized businesses choosing SMS. The next-closest products had less than half as large a share of the market, according to a Dec. 31, 2004 Forrester report, titled “The CSM Vendor Landscape.” In a more recent survey conducted by Forrester Research, Microsoft was the top choice among 43 percent of North American enterprises that selected a preferred client-management vendor, according to the analyst firm’s October 2005 “The State of IT Infrastructure Adoption” report.

Note that the statistics are for client management. Server management tends to be a different story because it is a more heterogeneous (and non-Microsoft) environment.

Microsoft has extended its commitment to its enterprise management customers by today releasing a public beta of updates that significantly expands SMS 2003’s tools and capabilities. The new SMS 2003 R2 helps businesses install and manage software updates for third-party and line-of-business (LOB) applications via SMS in the same format used by SMS, rather than the numerous different formats and mechanism used by other vendors. In addition, IT administrators can now rely on SMS 2003 to check for configuration errors and security vulnerabilities on their system’s desktops and servers.

And from the following Q&A:

The release to manufacturing (RTM) of SMS 2003 R2 is slated to follow this beta, in the next several months.

The new news here is the support for third party applications and the vulnerability checking. Microsoft has made security analyzers available for some time and incorporation of the function within SMS is a natural fit. Including third party software updates is also a good idea, but requires a certain amount of cooperation from the third party vendors to reach parity with the SMS support of Microsoft applications:

Now, if independent software vendors use ITCU to create a catalog containing the definitions for their application updates, customers can download updates from the vendor’s Web site in the same format and in the same way they download Microsoft patches. They then can deploy these updates using SMS. SMS’ administration console now contains an option to point to any site that contains such a catalog and import it directly into SMS.

It’ll be interesting to see if Microsoft has enough clout to get a significant number of ISVs to participate.

Filed under Beta and CTP, Configuration Manager, Servers

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