Systems management is becoming increasingly important to organisations facing an IT landscape continually growing in complexity, while also needing to optimise the flexibility and agility of their IT environments to take advantage of new business opportunities, writes Laubscher Calitz, senior technical specialist: systems management at Datacentrix.

According to Gartner’s Systems Management Forecast for 2006 to 2011, the IT operations management total software revenue in Europe, the Middle East and Africa will grow from $4,2-billion (around R27,3-billion) in 2006 to $6,3-billion (approximately R40,9-billion) in 2011. The overall estimated five-year compound annual growth rate for the period is 8,4%.
Bearing in mind the requirements of many companies, it is clear that enterprise IT departments require solutions that support performance and availability monitoring, software updates and deployment, data storage and recovery, IT reporting and problem solving, capacity, and operations management in order to allow the company to deliver new business value.
While local corporates had previously considered the Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) and Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) products as not ready for enterprise, the recently launched Microsoft System Center, a family of IT management solutions incorporating the new and improved SMS and MOM technologies, is fast changing this perception.
Microsoft, with its status as a software vendor with sizeable installed bases which can be leveraged for additional functionality and revenue including that for management software, is referred to as a major opponent in this market in a new Gartner study completed earlier this year.
The new Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 (formerly known as MOM) provides a comprehensive view of the health of the IT environment, tracking event and performance monitor across hundreds of operating systems and applications. As another component of System Center, Configuration Manager 2007 (previously known as SMS) drives up IT productivity and efficiency by reducing manual tasks and allowing users to focus on high value projects and maximise both hardware and software investments.
Microsoft has prevailed over previously more negative perceptions within the marketplace with System Center, including the view that the tools were relevant for the management of Microsoft-environments only or that the solutions were highly complicated for users.
The new System Center solutions show a number of key improvements, such as a significantly improved user interface that is more familiar and easy to use for its users. Scripting was another historically problematic area – once the previous versions of software were being implemented it was often found that it was not intuitive at the code level. Not only has this now been built into the new solutions, but they are also ready for new Microsoft technologies, such as Vista and the upcoming Windows 2008.
In addition, System Center also includes native integration capabilities into bigger business applications such as Citrix, Oracle and SAP, while a management pack can be developed for other in-house designed systems.
According to a Gartner report published recently, "Microsoft Takes on Heterogeneous Server Virtualization Management", reveals that the company also now intends to manage VMware and Xen environments through System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM), addressing the needs of IT organisations continuing with the aggressive deployment of server virtualisation solutions, fuelling the need for tools that can ensure the requisite levels of performance and availability.
A well managed IT environment improves an enterprise’s bottom line and productivity, but this can only be achieved by managing complexity and achieving agility.
As a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner that has built significant expertise in the Microsoft arena and a leading implementer of Microsoft enterprise infrastructure solutions offering development and integration capabilities on the Microsoft-based platform, Datacentrix maintains that the announcement of System Center has repositioned Microsoft as an enterprise player within this space, with interest already being generated from local IT-intensive companies including implementations within the public sector.