Microsoft officials weren't kidding when they said they were working on a services complement to just about every one of the company's software products. The latest to get a Software+Services (S+S) makeover: System Center.
Microsoft officials launched on September 28 a new System Center Online blog, with a tag line proclaiming, "Delivering world-class management software via services." In the first post on the new site, the "AIS Team" blogged about Microsoft's testing of its new asset-inventory service (AIS), which is based on technology Microsoft acquired when it purchased AssetMetrix.
"Asset Inventory Service is a hosted service that allows you to download a small client and install it on your PCs, upon which the client will register and report the software inventory of that PC to a web-based service. The service compares the list with the AIS central software title catalog, rationalizes the publisher, names and version numbers, and categorizes the software in your report. You (and your designee’s) can then securely access the reports through a simple-to-use webpage after providing proper credentials. You can use these reports to simply count your installations, prepare for your next round of procurement, or check the successful deployment of applications," according to the post. "In the future, you will also be able to compare this information to your Microsoft software licenses and automatically build your license reconciliation reports."
The service is available to selected testers in beta form. A Community Technology Preview (CTP) test build is available only to Software Assurance customers who have purchased the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP). The final release of the service will be later this year, according to the AIS team.
I can see why Microsoft would like to keep tabs on which customers aren't "trued-up" with their licenses, but I'm not so sure that many customers will be willing for Microsoft to store information about not just Microsoft licenses, but third-party ones, as well -- even if Microsoft attests that the license counts are secure.