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Microsoft shelves plans for management package

Redmond drops plans to combine several of its management software titles into a single package.

Microsoft is dropping plans to combine several of its management software titles into a single package, saying customers wanted the products to remain separate.

The company had planned to combine its Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003 and Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2005, into a single product known as System Center. But after some early testing and conversations with customers, Microsoft decided to keep the SMS patch management product separate from the MOM console program.

"Basically, they wanted us to stay the course," said Kirill Tatarinov, a corporate vice president in Microsoft's enterprise management unit. Tatarinov said customers were concerned about the time and money they have invested in the current crop of products and didn't want to have to move to something new.

Microsoft now plans to use System Center as a brand, covering a half dozen different products.

The announcements came as the Redmond, Wash.-based software leviathan kicked of its Microsoft Management Summit in Las Vegas. In a keynote speech there, Tatarinov also laid out the company's plans for future versions of MOM and several other products.

The next version of SMS is scheduled to be available in the first half of 2007 and will have a key role in helping businesses keep their networks up to date. Microsoft is adding a feature to Windows called Network Access Protection that will check machines as they enter a corporate network and determine if they are properly patched and quarantine those that aren't until they're updated. Though the scanning technology will be a part of Windows, SMS can be used to manage the patches as well as keep watch over a company's full inventory of systems.

As it is doing with other of its corporate products, Microsoft also plans to offer features designed to make it easier to tailor the software based on the "role" of the information technology worker using it.

Microsoft also plans a new reporting tool--System Center Reporting Manager--that will give IT managers a look at the information generated by SMS, MOM and Active Directory. The software is set to enter beta testing in about two weeks and be available in the second half of this year. A new version of MOM is also scheduled "in the Longhorn wave" of products, but the company did not offer specific timing information.

Tartarinov also talked about Microsoft's progress toward its long-term vision for management, which it has dubbed the Dynamic Systems Initiative.

He said two key pieces are coming into the Windows world that will help the company reach its goals: a new systems definition model that is built into Microsoft's Visual Studio 2005 tools, and support for WS-Management Web services that will be supported with R2, a Windows Server 2003 update that set to be available by year's end.