Microsoft said it has completed development on its System Centre Configuration Manager (SCCM) 2007 and the management tool will ship in November.
For users moving from the previous version - called System Management Server - the release represents an upgrade. But for those tracking Microsoft's Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI), a 10-year plan to build a management platform for Windows, it represents a beginning and an end.
SCCM 2007, which was released-to-manufacturing Monday, is key to the company's far-reaching DSI plan and is the third product that Microsoft has shipped that supports its System Definition Model (SDM) language. SDM is a linchpin in DSI, serving as the foundation that servers and applications use to define their optimum health and operational needs and communicate that data to the network.
Operations Manager and Visual Studio, which shipped earlier this year, both support SDM. Microsoft's goal is to use SDM to bring developers together with IT.
Developers will create applications that support SDM, while IT will deploy systems that can understand the language and use it to make management decisions.
But SDM is on the way out as Microsoft moves to adopt a common language called the Service Modelling Language (SML), which the company developed in conjunction with partners such as CA, Cisco, EMC, Dell and IBM.
In March, the group turned SML, which is based on Microsoft's proprietary SDM 3.0 specification, over to the World Wide Web Consortium for standardisation.
SML support eventually will be a feature in every management tool under Microsoft's System Centre brand and in everything from Configuration Manager to Windows Server 2008 to Visual Studio.
In short, adopters of SCCM 2007 will eventually have to migrate to SML. How easy or complex that will be is unknown.
In addition, users will need to roll out other SML technologies. Microsoft and its partners are working on something called the Common Model Library, which uses SML as the foundation for models of specific network components such as routers, storage devices, network servers and applications.
But so far the work is in its infancy, having mostly been developed within Microsoft just like SDM.
Since 2003, Microsoft has been talking on and off about DSI and the importance of SDM to the overall model.
The vision is that SDM-based models will foster better reliability, tracking, reporting, automated response/troubleshooting and rapid problem containment while making management efforts less expensive, easier and more consistent. DSI is Microsoft's version of what others call autonomic computing.