Microsoft: MOM knows best

At NetWorld+Interop in Las Vegas, Microsoft Operations Manager 2000 takes control of Solaris and Linux servers

At NetWorld+Interop in Las Vegas, Microsoft Operations Manager 2000 takes control of Solaris and Linux servers

You don't often get Microsoft boasting about its ability to manage Solaris systems, or integrate with Linux; but the message from MOM is: Mom knows all, sees all. That is, Microsoft Operations Manager 2000 is designed to make the network manager's job easier.

The new product isn't something you'd want to understand if you were just a Windows PC user. But it might be worth taking an interest -- it's one of the first bits of .Net to surface.

To understand properly what it does, you would have to understand just what can go wrong on a large, complex network, with a Web server or two or three, an Oracle database and a SQL Server system -- or six -- plus various dial-up connections, Internet-based virtual private networks.

In short, you have to be the guy who wears the pager, and gets called out of bed when things go wrong.

Newly-promoted vice-president Cliff Reeves, now in charge of Windows .Net server product marketing, posed on stage with MOM. That is, he had a galaxy of MOM's from Marge Simpson to a Hawaiian Earth Mother to a sweet little old battleaxe, all telling him how proud they were of him.

The networking guys at the launch seemed impressed. The demo was touchingly simple -- Cliff set up a "rule" for a user. It was pretty simple, as rules go: if the user turned up the volume control on his PC, MOM turned it down. And if he turned it all the way up, MOM closed the media player.

It's a trivial example, perhaps, but it gives a pretty good idea of what you can do with it, especially if you have problems with things misbehaving -- or people. For example, said Reeves, you could have a rule that says if people log in anonymously you don't just get a chance to read the login log file later; you get an alert, and you can find out who is doing it, right now.

He showed other examples: a SQL Server program that needed to be re-started, an exchange server that needed to be given more resources, and in each case, he pointed out, it wasn't obvious what was causing the problem.

"Normally, you'd see pages being showed as "not found" and you might well assume the IIS was down, and you'd reboot it. But MOM shows you that it's the back-end database which is misbehaving, and points you at suggested operations that might fix it, or Web or intranet resources which might give you guidance," said Reeves.

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