Is Crossplatform App Management in Microsoft's Future?

Despite numerous flops along the way, Microsoft has a track record of astounding the IT world by surmounting mighty high hurdles. Could crossplatform application management be next in line? Jacqueline Emigh reports.

 By Jacqueline Emigh
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Imagine, if you will, a world in which Microsoft Windows helps provide application-level management on other operating systems -- and possibly vice versa. With its emerging "self-healing" architecture, Microsoft hopes to gain ground in crossplatform enterprise management by partnering with other operating system (OS) vendors.

At this early stage of the game, observers are expressing some doubts about this uncharacteristic strategy from Microsoft. Most do agree, though, that Microsoft would have certain advantages working in its favor, including an army of Visual Basic developers and the financial resources needed to make things happen.

"We'd love it, of course, if every organization was either 'purely Windows' or 'Windows-centric.' The reality, though, is that many environments are not," maintains Michael Emanuel, a product manager at Microsoft.

Accordingly, he says, Microsoft will look for partnerships with other OS makers around its XML-based Dynamic Management Initiative (DMI) architecture, rolled out last week at the Microsoft Management Summit.

"Our goal is to take management all the way to the top of the enterprise stack. You can use as much or as little [of DMI] as you want," Emanuel said. "You can either extend [my object model] or inherit it into another."

"We won't always agree on how to communicate -- J2EE or .NET?" he acknowledges. Emanuel also notes, though, that Microsoft already uses the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) protocol to exchange messages between J2EE environments and its own .NET framework.

Windows can also be administered by crossplatform network management frameworks such as Hewlett-Packard's OpenView and Computer Associates' Unicenter, via industry standards like Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) and Common Information Model (CIM).

Microsoft's vision for DMI goes much deeper, though. Ultimately, Microsoft sees the application and surrounding environment as working hand-in-hand to automate administrative procedures that remain time-consuming today. Server configuration and security patch installation are a couple of prime examples.

Although DMI is still in its infancy, elements announced so far include the System Definition Model (SDM) object model, two new administration tools, Automated Deployment Services (ADS), Windows System Resource Manager (WSRM), and System Center, a management capability that initially encompasses the existing Systems Management Server (SMS) and Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM).

Microsoft plans to further flesh out its DMI plans at the forthcoming WinHEC conference, Emanuel reports.

Microsoft to Seek OS Partners

Microsoft has already forged a DMI hardware partnership with HP, according to Emanuel, who hints the agreement might expand into application management.

Emanuel added that beyond the industry pacts already announced, Microsoft will seek additional DMI partners in the OS realm as well as the hardware and applications areas.

While Emanuel didn't specify the precise nature of the crossplatform relationships Microsoft wants, he also didn't rule out the prospect that DMI might someday be used to help administer Linux applications, for example.

Page 2: "W2K Can Run and Run"

This article was originally published on Mar 28, 2003
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