After questioning Microsoft's response to the Linux desktop wars only a couple of weeks ago, I'm questioning yet another Redmond tack to fend off the steady slip in its über-platform strategy. This time, it's the upcoming beta program for MOM (Microsoft Operations Manager) 2005.
Originally, this puppy was designed to manage "Windows-centric datacenters," part of a push by the big M to get customers to view Windows servers as viable players in true high-availability datacenter scenarios. Near as I can tell, the strategy has succeeded -- partly. You'll find more Windows servers, especially Windows Server 2003 , in high-end datacenters than you might have four years ago, but aside from a few Microsoft marketing testimonial cases, you still won't find an avalanche of datacenter managers advocating a Windows-only approach.
Along comes MOM 2005. A few years wiser and under more fire than ever from third-party Windows management products in addition to other platforms, MOM 2005 doesn't vary much from its traditional Windows-centric target. On the bright side, MOM 2005 has a bunch of new features, including service-availability event handling. This feature lets administrators measure e network and even individual system performance in the usual event-driven model, but also adds support for load-balance and application bandwidth-requirement measurements.
MOM 2005 also has a new, and honestly cool, operations console that manages proactive health monitoring of applications and server systems. And leveraging its extremely close Windows ties, this feature includes a whole bunch of health guidelines for Microsoft applications and server configurations, making the setting of event thresholds pretty darn easy.
There's also a small business version this time, dubbed MOM 2005 Express. This one is specifically designed to support Microsoft Small Business systems, but still includes most of the high-end features of the full-blown version. You get the full MCF (MOM Connector Framework), as well as the full MOM reporting engine based on SQL Server reporting services.
In keeping with its older feature set, MOM 2005 does contain yet more plugs into third-party software. MOM retains the management "packs" it has always had, which allow administrators to quickly create templates for specific server functions. But 2005 has updated the packs to include support for Windows Server 2003 and IIS 6.0. It's also got updated support for the MCF, which is the plug technology that allows MOM to talk to outside platforms. The version shipping with MOM 2005 now supports an even wider array of outside management platforms, including IBM Tivoli and Hewlett-Packard OpenView, as well as Aprisma Spectrum, NetIQ AppManager, and more, including support for another 25 CRM, database-management, and help-desk products.
All this third-party support sounds great but really isn't a departure from MOM's existing strategy. The platform is expected to ship near the end of this year but a beta test going on this summer should allow you to test whether MOM will support your existing third-party management tools.
And that is exactly my problem. Is it better to continue on a "me-only" approach to MOM, simply making it the "best" Windows server management console? Or might it be time for Microsoft to take network management seriously enough to include multiplatform support as a core feature instead of just a plug-in? MOM has plenty of extremely capable competition out there even in the Windows-only server management space. Considering all the fire the company is under from other management software vendors as well as operating system vendors, wouldn't a better defense be a new and dedicated offense? What if MOM had as many cool Linux management features as it does Windows Server 2003 management features?
Not sure I'd buy it, but I'd sure as heck test the living bejeesus out of it.