When Microsoft held its business soft-launch for Windows 7 and related enterprise products earlier this week, System Center got next-to-no love.
But that doesn't mean nothing's happening on Microsoft's system-management front. In fact, in the past couple of weeks, the team has delivered relatively quietly more than a few new test builds of a variety of new wares in the works.
Even though Microsoft's "The New Efficiency" launch focused primarily on Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 and Exchange Server 2010, Microsoft officials increasingly are playing up the manageability of Microsoft and third-party software and services as one of the biggest differentiators between Microsoft and competitors in the PC, phone and Web-centric productivity arenas.
Over the past couple of weeks, the System Center team has pushed out and/or mentioned a number of new test builds. Among them:
System Center Essentials 2010: Microsoft made available for download a beta of its small/mid-size-business-focused suite of server management products. Essentials provides monitoring and diagnostics for Windows clients, servers, apps and network devices; deploys Microsoft Installer and EXE-installed software from Microsoft and third parties; conducts hardware and software inventories, handles health-status reports and updates deployment. Microsoft officials try to avoid calling Essentials a bundle of products, even though the suite uses technologies from Operations Manager, Windows Server Update Services, SQL Server and Microsoft Update. Final ship date target: Not sure.
Configuration Manager 2007 R3: Microsoft is lining up Technology Adoption Program (TAP) partners who will be testing Release 3. The focus of the R3 update is on power management. The beta for R3 is slatd for late October 2009. Final version due in first half of calendar 2010.
Data Protection Manager 2010: Also known as DPM Version 3 or "Zinger," the next release of DPM hit beta at the end of September. DPM provides continuous data protection for Windows Server, SQL Server, Exchange Server, SharePoint Server, Dynamics AX and more by backing them up to disk, tape and the cloud. The new release will add protection and recovery for live migration in Hyper-V, SharePoint 2010, Exchange 2010 and more. Final ship date target: Not sure (but I'd guess sometime after mid-2010, since SharePoint 2010 support is included).
System Center Online Desktop Manager: This is one of the System Center team's first real forays into the Microsoft-hosted services space. In late August, the team said to expect a public beta of SCODM "soon." There already is a fact sheet and a feature list (antimalware, Microsoft updates, desktop monmitoring, desktop configuration, IT asset management and remote assistance). Final version delivery target: I'd bet some time in 2010, but so far haven't seen a firm date.
Service Manager 2010: Formerly known as "Service Desk," Service Manager 2010 is in private beta now (with Beta 2 due imminently). Update: Service Manager 2010 Beta 2 is now available. This new tool is aimed at helping IT managers deal with trouble tickets, help requests and compliance auditing. Final version delivery target: Early 2010.