Vintela, which writes software to integrate Windows and competing platforms, has developed an extension to Microsoft\u2019s management software so it can service Unix, Linux and Macintosh computers.The company on Monday shipped Vintela Management Extensions 1.0, a set of components for Microsoft\u2019s System Management Server 2003 that provide discovery, inventory, distribution, reporting and remote features for managing servers and desktops regardless of platform.The software can help users consolidate management chores to a single platform and avoid retraining on other tools when integrating non-Windows platforms into a Windows network.\u201cWe had a business demand to deploy more IBM Unix servers but we had no way to manage those systems,\u201d says Thomas Nguyen, senior systems integration engineer for Celera Genomics, which researches and develops therapeutics for cancer, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. \u201cWe don\u2019t have the administrative resources to adopt Tivoli.\u201dSo Nguyen is testing VMX to collect mostly inventory data from those Unix boxes. He already is set to deploy VMX for software and hardware inventory chores for 5,000 Windows servers and desktops and 200 Macintosh desktops.Microsoft has been trying to move its management tools up into the data center but it has been hampered by its sole focus on Windows. It worked closely with Vintela to develop VMX.\u201cWhat Vintela is doing is critical to Microsoft broadening the acceptance of SMS,\u201d says Corey Ferengul, an analyst with the Meta Group. He says giving SMS the ability to work across other platforms is a step for Microsoft toward entering the data center, but that SMS still must expand its feature set, including the addition of workflow tools.The VMX software consists of three components, including a client component that allows servers and desktops to communicate with SMS. The client component is based on the Open Web-Based Enterprise Management (WEBEM), which is an open implementation of a set of standards developed by the Distributed Management Task Force to unify the management of enterprise computing environments. Microsoft supports WEBEM in its Windows Management Instrumentation, an API that allows systems and network devices to be configured and managed.The second component is a snap-for SMS that lets it communicate with the client components. Third is a console extension that supports additions to the interface to address the non-Windows platforms.VMX uses the same data stores, classes, objects, and attributes that SMS 2003 uses. It is the second tool created by Vintela for integrating Windows and other platforms. The other is Vintela Authentication Services, which integrates password management through Active Directory for Windows, Unix and Linux.VMX is priced starting at $1,195, which includes server, console and four client components. Additional client side components are $75 per desktop and $125 per sever. The prices include a Windows client access license, and Microsoft Product Support Services is providing first-level support for users with Enterprise Agreements.