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A Window into Microsoft Server Innovations

SAN DIEGO -- Microsoft is in the process of bringing all of its server offerings into one system, complete with unified tools for development, management and security, Microsoft vice president Andrew Lees said Tuesday.

Management remains a top priority for Microsoft's Server System, according to Lees. He spoke to some 11,000 customers and partners on the second day of Tech-Ed, Microsoft's conference for developers and IT professionals held this week in San Diego.

Lees, Microsoft corporate vice president for server and tools marketing, announced the Dynamic Systems Initiative, a plan to make designing, deploying and managing complex distributed computing systems easier. Now and over the next few years, Microsoft will deliver many different components of the initiative.

"We're thinking about the overall life cycle for systems, the way they're designed, operated and managed," Lees said. For example, in a future version of Exchange Server, a tool called Systems Center could let a network designer quickly model and test a network expansion. A simple forms-based tool would let the designer set parameters such as how many users would be on the network, when peak hours would be, what time zone they would be in and what their peak hours would be. The tool would suggest a network configuration and run a simulation. The designer could check performance and tweak the architecture using graphical tools.

"This is a glimpse of what we'll work on delivering to you with the Dynamic Systems Initiative," Lees said.

"The hundreds of IT professionals I've talked to tell me that the lack of integration across IT causes complexity, cost and pain," he said. Plugging the Tech-Ed theme of "do more with less," Lees told the audience that Microsoft has made a commitment to allow all servers to be managed through Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM), providing a single management console.

Microsoft kicked off Dynamic Systems Initiative today with the release of Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003, Windows Storage Server 2003 Feature Pack and release candidate code for MOM 2005 "Express."

As part of the Windows Server System Common Engineering Criteria for 2005, also announced today, Management Packs will be available when products are released, and they'll be updated on the same schedules as the products. "If I'm on the Exchange team, I'm going to design MOM as the way I manage Exchange," Lees said.

Lees announced Windows Server System Infrastructure Environment, providing guidance and support on how best to use elements of the server system. As server product packages are released, they'll include a set of guidelines, solution guidance, patterns and best practices for building on the software. The Microsoft Solutions Architecture has been renamed to Windows Server System Reference Architecture, and it will be part of the guidance package.

Available today is Best Practices Analyzer Tool for Microsoft SQL Server 2000. It gives database administrators some guidelines and recommendations from the Microsoft SQL Server development team, plus a series of system checks to help them prepare for SQL Server 2005. The Best Practices Analyzer will be used across Windows Server System environments.

Lees gave the Tech-Ed keynote audience previews of future enhancements to Server System.

Windows Server 21003 R2, the feature pack Microsoft has said will arrive this year, includes better network defense, simplified branch server deployment and management, and support for remote access with identity federation. It will include Anywhere Access, which lets users self-provision remote access to Exchange Server 2003 and Outlook 2003, via SharePoint and Portal Server.

Lees said administrators will be able to use Active Directory Federation Services to set policies and identities based on different environments and for cross-company collaboration. Active Directory Federation Services support the Federated Identity Using Web Services standard. Device Management Feature Pack for SMS 2003 will extend Outlook to mobile devices.

"Anywhere Access is more secure than VPN," Lees said, "because access can be limited."