Microsoft brings management applications into .Net family

Microsoft Corp. has begun building the foundation it hopes will centralize the management of Windows and other servers in a distributed environment.

On Thursday the software giant licensed technology from NetIQ for managing Windows servers, most notably Windows 2000 and its .Net Enterprise Servers, a family of servers such as SQL and Exchange.

Microsoft is trying to establish itself as an enterprise server company with the availability and scalability improvements it has made with Windows 2000 Advanced and DataCenter servers. To support that effort the company plans to offer management capabilities that give IT executives centralized control over any number of servers spread across their organization.

The company’s .Net framework is likely to create a multiple server scenario with its eight individual servers and its clustering and load balancing technology. Microsoft introduced .Net back in June as a platform where software can run out on the Internet as a service accessible by a range of devices.

“This is another brick in the wall toward being an enterprise player,” said Jim Ewel, vice-president of .Net servers marketing. “With .Net we think as you move critical business systems to the Internet you need reliability and scalability and part of supporting that is to have managed systems.”

Under terms of the agreement, Microsoft will license NetIQ Operations Manager, which provides event and performance monitoring. The system has three components: an agent that runs on a particular server, the Consolidator for collecting data from the agents, and a Data Access Server (DAS) that works in conjunction with SQL.

Microsoft will become the sole distributor of the product under the name Microsoft Operations Manager beginning next year. NetIQ will continue to develop modules for Operations Manager that support non-Microsoft and non-Windows environments.

“We will focus on developing agents for other platforms, such as SAP, Oracle and Lotus Domino,” said Tom Kemp, vice-president of products for NetIQ.

Microsoft agreed to pay NetIQ US$175 million in license fees and $6 million in engineering co-development funds over the next three years. Microsoft also agreed to invest $5 million per year to market the joint solutions and pay NetIQ an additional $5 million per year.

In addition, Microsoft announced .Net Management Services, which will help tie together enterprise management systems. The services, which will be built into the Windows operating system, are based on the Common Information Model (CIM) and the Extensible Markup Language (XML). Microsoft is developing a Microsoft Management Console Portal, a centralized interface where network administrators can run all their management interfaces.

Microsoft also unveiled its Microsoft Management Alliance, a support system for developers building management products.