Heterogeneous datacentre management from Microsoft System Center

Back in 2005, I quoted a Microsoft executive on his view on Microsoft’s support for heterogeneous environments through its management products:

“[it’s] not part of our DNA and I don’t think this is something that we should be doing.”

Well, maybe things are changing in post-Gates Microsoft. I knew that System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 (named at last week’s Microsoft Management Summit) included support for managing VMware ESX Server and a future version should also be able to manage XenSource hosts, but what I had missed in the MMS press release was System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) 2007 Cross Platform Extensions. These allow SCOM to manage HP-UX, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), Sun Solaris and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server through management packs with Novell, Quest and Xandros adding support for common applications like Apache, MySQL and (a real surprise) Oracle. Then, for those with existing investments in major enterprise management suites, there are SCOM connectors to allow interoperability between System Center and third-party products like HP OpenView and IBM Tivoli.

I really think this is a brave step for Microsoft – but also the right thing to do. There are very few Microsoft-only datacentres and, whilst I am no enterprise management expert, it seems to me that corporates don’t want one solution for each platform and the big enterprise management suites are costly to implement. With System Center, people know what they are getting – a reasonably priced suite of products, with a familiar interface and a good level of functionality – maybe not everything that’s in Tivoli, UniCenter or OpenView, but enough to do the job. If the same solution that manages the WIntel systems can also manage the enterprise apps on Solaris (or another common Unix platform), then everyone’s a winner.

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