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Microsoft offers peek into future mgmt. software

Mar 17, 20043 mins
Data CenterMicrosoft

LAS VEGAS — Microsoft Wednesday offered the first glimpse into its next generation management software with a preview of a capacity planning tool codenamed Indy.

The Indy tool allows users to model how applications are deployed including location of servers, links between those servers and number of users. The tool then provides a simulation of the results if a server were deployed under the prescribed model.

Microsoft made the announcement during the morning keynote by Kirill Tatarinov, Microsoft corporate vice president of the enterprise management division, speaking at the company’s annual Management Summit. Tatarinov was subbing for CEO Steve Ballmer, who was scheduled to deliver the keynote but was held up in Europe for talks with the European Union.

Without Ballmer, Indy made the loudest impact during the keynote. Indy is slated to be delivered with the second version of System Center, a management tool that will combine System Management Server (SMS), Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM), a data warehousing capability along with Indy and a tool to create and maintain a desired state of a server.

“This is an area of the industry that has been over promised and under delivered,” said Tatarinov of the ability to do deep analysis of network operations.

No delivery date has been set for Indy or System Center version 2, which is a key component of Microsoft’s ambitious Dynamic System Initiative. DSI is a wide-ranging management platform much like the utility computing initiatives from the likes of IBM and HP.

The first version of System Center is due out later this year and will feature a common interface to link MOM and SMS, and a set of reporting services that will draw information from the two management tools.

But version 2 of System Center, which Tatarinov said is very early in development, is an example of the sort of management tools that Microsoft hopes to create under DSI. But it also offers the first glimpse into the likely complexity of DSI.

Indy relies on data from DSI’s System Definition Model (SDM), which uses XML-based documents as a way for applications to communicate their management and operational needs to the network.

“It seems extremely ambitious to me,” says Peter Pawlak, an analyst with Directions of Microsoft. “It’s a very grand vision. It’s logically the way to go.” But Pawlak says it is unclear just how many points on the network will need to support SDM in order to derive holistic management capabilities. “It all makes me wonder how many parts will need to support SDM to build a feasible management model. It could include the OS, the hardware, the applications and the network components. Indy shows the tip of how complex the whole system can become.”

SDM also is a key component of Visual Studio 2005 (code-named Whidbey), which is expected to ship in the first half of next year. Developers will use Visual Studio 2005 to build applications that incorporate the SDM model.

During a demonstration of Indy, Michael Emanuel, director of Microsoft’s enterprise management division, used a wizard-driven interface to set up sites to deploy Exchange servers, the time zones those servers would be operating in and the number of users that would be on each server. He also set up links between the sites and set typical usage patterns including usage patterns, mailbox size and types of clients. He then set off a simulation that showed such things as CPU and network interface card utilization, and network latency at each hop that an e-mail message took.