• United States
Neal Weinberg
Contributing writer, Foundry

Microsoft SMS

Mar 06, 20032 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsMicrosoft

* The Reviewmeister puts SMS 2003 beta to the test

If you’re a Microsoft customer, and who isn’t, then you’re probably curious about the latest version of Microsoft Systems Management Server.

The Reviewmeister was curious too, so, even though the latest version is still in the middle of an extended beta-test program,  we put the SMS 2003 beta through its paces.

 Overall the results were not bad for a beta product. 

A main focus of the new version of SMS is to fully integrate it with Active Directory. You now can discover computers through multiple methods, including Windows User Group or Account, Active Directory System, User or Account, and through Network or Heartbeat discovery.

SMS 2003 uses containers in the directory to group discovered systems in much the same way as Novell’s ZENworks. The Site Settings tree includes all the particulars on how you want individual components configured, such as software and hardware inventory.

SQL Server 2000 is the recommended database back end, and is tightly integrated with the SMS product. All the queries for reporting are SQL and can be customized just as you would a normal SQL query. The current list of predefined queries is rather small, but can be expanded and customized. A separate reporting function includes more than 140 predefined reports that also can be customized.

Microsoft calls its new client agent the Advanced Client, which also supports mobile devices. Background Intelligent Transfer Services (BITS) provides the bandwidth and intermittent connection support for the Advanced Client and is the same technology currently used by the Windows Update service.

The hardware and software inventory features are very thorough. In its present state, the software inventory portion might be a little too thorough. Finding a particular application can be a chore from the huge list of gathered files. SMS 2003 also supports software metering for monitoring software usage.

Microsoft also has addressed issues of scalability with this release and makes it possible to use a number of different servers to gather and store information for a specific group within an Active Directory tree. Each site server has defined boundaries by IP addresses to mark the computers that it will service.

For the full report, to go