Microsoft sets ship date for Configuration Manager

Microsoft software key component of its Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI)

Microsoft Monday said development is complete on its System Center Configuration Manager 2007, a cornerstone in its model for managed IT systems, and that the management tool will ship in November.

For users moving from the pervious version called System Management Server the release represents an upgrade, but for those tracking Microsoft's Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI), a 10-year plan to build a management platform for Windows, it represents a beginning and an end.

SCCM 2007, which was released-to-manufacturing Monday, is key to the company's far-reaching DSI plan and is the first product to ship with support for the Service Modeling Language (SML), a Microsoft technology that it has submitted to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) for standardization. SML is the replacement for the System Definition Model (SDM) language, a linchpin in DSI that servers as the foundation that servers and applications use to define their optimum health and operational needs and communicate that data to the network.

Operations Manager and Visual Studio, which shipped earlier this year, both support SDM. Microsoft's goal had been to use SDM, first introduced in 2003, to bring developers together with IT.

Developers will create applications that support SDM, while IT will deploy systems that can understand the language and use it to make management decisions.

But SDM is on the way out as Microsoft moves to adopt SML, a common language that the company developed in conjunction with partners such as CA, Cisco, EMC, Dell and IBM.

In March, the group turned SML, which is based on Microsoft's proprietary SDM 3.0 specification, over to the World Wide Web Consortium for standardization.

SML support eventually will be a feature in every management tool under Microsoft's System Center brand and in everything from Configuration Manager to Windows Server 2008 to Visual Studio.

In short, adopters of SCCM 2007 will eventually move to an SML-based environment once the specification is approved as a standard by the World Wide Web Consortium. Currently, the software supports SDM 3.0, which the SML proposal is based on.

In addition, users will need to roll out other SML technologies. Microsoft and its partners are working on something called the Common Model Library, which uses SML as the foundation for models of specific network components such as routers, storage devices, network servers and applications.

But so far the work is in its infancy, having mostly been developed within Microsoft just like SDM.

Since 2003, Microsoft has been talking on and off about DSI and the importance of SDM to the overall model.

The vision is that SDM-based models will foster better reliability, tracking, reporting, automated response/troubleshooting and rapid problem containment while making management efforts less expensive, easier and more consistent. DSI is Microsoft's version of what others call autonomic computing.

Editor's note: This article originally said that Configuration Manager 2007 uses the System Definition Model language, to be replaced with the Service Modeling Language (SML) at some future point. But that was not correct; Configuration Manager 2007 is the first Microsoft product to ship out of the gate with SML. The article was corrected on Aug. 29 at about 10 a.m. EDT.

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