Microsoft Beefs Up Windows 2000 with Operations Manager

Microsoftstruck a deal that will give Windows 2000 a systems manager that’s lessMicrosoft-centric, perhaps giving it entry into some of the enterprise mixed-computingenvironments it’s been shut out of.

Inmid-October Microsoft announced its licensing of NetIQ’s Operations Manager(OM) for use with Windows 2000 and its .NET Enterprise Servers. “Thispartnership will provide a great platform for systems management that willaddress growing customer demand for simplifying the management of theirdistributed enterprise infrastructures," said Ching-Fa Hwang, NetIQ’s CEO,in a statement.

OM beganlife as Enterprise Event Manager, originally developed by Mission CriticalSoftware, and started shipping in 1995. OM has been out since last November,following the merger between NetIQ and Mission Critical. It can be operatedfrom a console or Web browser, and works across multiple environments.

RickPleczko, vice president of marketing at NetIQ, says his company has workedclosely with Microsoft in the management area for several years. He saysMicrosoft licensed both OM and Application Manager, which works on top of OM.“What Operations Manager does is real-time monitoring of Windows servers tomake sure they’re up and running and healthy, and real-time event monitoring.”

It alsodoes something Microsoft’s Systems Management Server (SMS) doesn’t do: It canhandle management across Unix, Novell, Oracle, and SAP environments. As Pleczkosays, “We’ll do the heterogeneous part that Microsoft wants; Microsoft willconcentrate on Windows; and we’ll focus on other environments and provide othervalue-added products on top of the infrastructure.”

That’s thekey to the whole deal, says Dan Kusnetzky, program vice president, systemsoftware, at IDC. “Microsoft is trying to get into the enterprise computerroom. [They have] not had a good reputation for fitting into a managementenvironment unless it’s theirs, so they’re seeing that they need to broadentheir horizons.”

OfKusnetzky’s assessment, Pleczko says, “I think I agree 1,000 percent and,[Microsoft] would agree also. Our goals are: one, to make Windows 2000 the bestand easiest platform to manage; and two, to make Windows 2000 the best platformfrom which to manage an enterprise platform with many different components.”

SMS hasnever developed the capabilities present in a management program like OM,Kusnetzky says. “If anything, SMS has gotten more and more Microsoft-centricover time. The problem is that it solves part of the problem for people, notthe whole problem. Most companies end up having to have a large collection oftools. Microsoft helps you manage Microsoft products and nothing else,” heexplains.

Microsoftsees OM as a sister product to SMS, says Michael Emanuel, senior productmanager, management technologies, at Microsoft. “They are compliments. If youthink about the act of managing a system, first you have to get it set up andconfigured, then you have to monitor it, make sure it’s working properly in thesystem. That second piece is operations management.”

Emanuellisted three primary reasons for choosing NetIQ’s solution over competingproducts. “On the technical level, they have a mature product. Customers haveused the product, and it scales. Second, [OM] uses the services that we havealready in Windows 2000 -- it’s already built on top of the Windows managementinfrastructure. And third, they’re among the best, easiest partners to workwith. They ‘get’ Windows, they understand Windows. They’ve made Windows theright platform from which to manage systems.”

Kusnetzkysays he likes NetIQ’s products. “NetIQ has tools that can manage a range ofenvironments, and Microsoft’s trying to flesh out its tools. They look likevery reasonable products, solid performers at reasonable price. It’s hard tosay anything other than ‘that’s a good choice.’”

Thepartnership may also signal a subtle shift in Microsoft’s’ business dealings,according to a report by the analyst group Illuminata. Illuminata commendsMicrosoft’s desire to work with a company, rather than buy it out to acquirethe technology. The report speculates that this new willingness may be falloutfrom the government’s antitrust lawsuit that threatens to break Microsoft intwo.

Using amedieval theme, the analysis states, “Microsoft hasretained a valuable knight instead of ransacking its technological treasury,and empowered NetIQ to set forth against foes marshaled beneath the banners of Unixand Linux on the e-commerce battlefield. This deal -- coupled with the recent$135 million investment in Corel (see related story) -- perhaps signifies newstrategic maneuvers by Microsoft.”

Emanuelsays Microsoft’s goal is to have OM available by next summer as a value-addedaddition to Windows 2000.


MicrosoftCorp., Redmond, Wash.,

NetIQ Corp.,San Jose, Calif.,

IlluminataInc., Nashua, N.H.,

IDC,Framingham, Mass.,