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How to get a handle on your massive network

Aug 20, 20033 mins
Enterprise Applications

* A look at Microsoft Windows Platform Manageability Kit

One of these days you just have to get more organized. The network, the servers, the users (the printers, the hubs, the routers, the cables) – everything needs to be managed more rationally. “Management by reaction” just doesn’t work anymore.

You could call in outside help, hired gunslingers, or what Vaughn Sizemore, a partner at Web services software firm Dewpoint, calls “worshippers at the church of Our Lady of the Perpetual Invoice” – otherwise known as management consultants.

You know that, given the right tools you could pull it all together, but which are the right tools? What’s it going to cost to find out? Reading reviews is one thing, but you don’t get a feel for the tool that way nor can you be sure it does exactly what you want it to do without any irritating side effects. Once again, Microsoft feels your pain and wants to help.

Well, OK, Microsoft really wants to sell you something. But to do that it wants you to be happy with the “something” and to ensure that it is going to let you try it out.

The Microsoft Windows Platform Manageability Kit is a package of CDs that includes an invaluable resource kit (“invaluable,” in this case, means you can’t buy it for any price), as well as evaluation versions of a number of products useful in a management capacity. Those products include Microsoft Systems Management Server 2.0, Microsoft Operations Manager 2000, Microsoft Application Center 2000, Microsoft SQL Server 2000, and Microsoft Windows Server 2003.

That’s quite a haul and the kit is all yours for the low, low price of – nothing, zip, zilch, nada, free. In the U.S., at least, there’s not even the ubiquitous “shipping and handling” charge so beloved of people who want us to have something for free.

Besides the evaluation software, you also get the resource kit, which includes evaluation guides, deployment guides, technical white papers, and case studies for all of the included products. There are even some “demonstrations” (also known as “slideware”) to illustrate how best to use the products for network management.

While you might not think of Windows Server 2003 or SQL Server 2000 as “management tools”, they form the basis and the platform for the other products in the evaluation kit. The Microsoft Systems Management Server 2.0 feature pack, for example, provides hardware and software inventory, critical patch management and software distribution, as well as remote troubleshooting by using the data facilities of SQL Server coupled with the distribution facilities of Windows Server 2003.

Microsoft Operations Manager 2000 is also built on SQL Server and provides event consolidation, performance monitoring, alerting and reporting services for your servers and applications. Many of those services and applications are Web services and Microsoft Application Center 2000 is the tool to enhance your application management while simplifying deployment of Web applications to Internet Information Server, an integral part of Windows Server 2003. See how it all goes together?

The Microsoft Windows Platform Manageability Kit is free, it’s packed with useful stuff and it could help you get a handle on actually managing that amorphous mass you euphemistically call “the network”. Sign up today and have a well-managed system before Christmas (when the evaluation licenses run out).