Microsoft unveils dev tools to support management

Microsoft Corp. Wednesday unveiled a Web services-based technology intended to allow its Windows-centric management tools to integrate with other platforms such as Linux and Unix.

The technology is a small part of the company's Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI), a wide-ranging plan to create a self-managing environment.

Microsoft also introduced at its Professional Developers Conference a technology codenamed Whitehorse that is planned for the Whidbey version of Visual Studio.Net. Whitehorse, the first development tool under the DSI banner, would allow developers to ensure that their applications adhere to network management policies.

The Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) Connector Framework introduced Wednesday is a Web-based technology that supports integration of MOM, an event- and performance-monitoring tool, with third-party management tools for Web services, Linux and Unix. The connector supports bi-directional alert forwarding and synchronization.

Microsoft introduced 12 partners that have built MOM management packs on the connector framework and that offer support for Web-server management tools, as well as Linux and Unix platforms.

"Heterogeneous support has been nonexistent, and MOM can't be enterprise-class without it," says Ray Wizbowski, business development manager at MetiLinx Inc., which introduced its MetiLinx Connector for MOM. The connector provides real-time management data on Linux and Unix machines.

Connectors also were introduced by Actional Corp., Amberpoint Inc., Aprisma Management Technologies Inc., Computer Associates International Inc., Hewlett-Packard Corp., IBM Corp./Tivoli, Maranti Networks Inc., Micromuse Inc., NetIQ Corp., Service Integrity Inc., System Management Arts Inc. and Skywire Software. Microsoft also released a management pack catalog.

MOM 2004 is expected to go into its first public beta by year-end. Next year, it will be bundled with System Management Server 2003, which ships Nov. 11, into a tool called System Center that will become central to the DSI platform.

Microsoft's broad DSI plan - which is an effort to keep pace with utility computing platforms under development by IBM, Sun Microsystems Inc. and HP - has been criticized for its lack of interoperability with other enterprise platforms.

"Our expertise is Windows," says David Hamilton, director of the enterprise management division at Microsoft. "For the heterogeneous environment we will partner and we will continue to work with the standards bodies on standards."

DSI defines how applications communicate their management needs to a network using an XML-based technology Microsoft is developing called the System Definition Model (SDM). Microsoft has committed $1.7 billion in research and development this fiscal year toward DSI and SDM, which will be supported in the operating system and used in the development of applications so management becomes an inherent part of the entire Windows environment.

On Monday, Microsoft introduced its first SDM-capable tools with the unveiling of Whitehorse, a set of graphical tools contained in Whidbey. With Whitehorse, developers could build service-oriented applications that include SDM meta-data so the applications can communicate their management needs to a network. The Whidbey version of Visual Studio.Net is expected to ship in the second half of next year.

Whitehorse lets developers drag and drop their services-based applications onto a network map and validate their adherence to management policies.

The first tool in the Whitehorse set is the Web services designer. The designer can read an SDM file and tell the developer if an application will adhere to specific management policies in a given segment of the network.

"Whitehorse provides the operations guys and application architects the tools to communicate through the development process," says Prashant Sridharan, lead product manager in the developer division at Microsoft. "It solves a major problem between the developers and IT."

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