With more than 100 servers distributed across numerous locations worldwide, Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc. was having problems managing its diverse network.

As a Microsoft Corp. shop, the Canadian broadcaster quickly stumbled upon the Microsoft Operation Manager (MOM) to help improve the efficiency within its IT department.

MOM is an enterprise-level product that helps reduce the complexity of application management for IT professionals, according to Microsoft. The product is also part of Microsoft’s Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI). Developed in 2003, DSI is Microsoft’s vision for simplifying and automating the way its customers develop, deploy and operate distributed systems.

“We needed a product to be proactive and manage (it) with using as little resources as we could,” said Jeff Kent, senior vice-president of IT with Alliance.

“We were able to [monitor] all of our severs from around the world from Toronto with our existing staff and we can continue to add services without having to add people,” Kent explained, during a recent roundtable discussion of existing Microsoft MOM customers and partners at the company’s Canadian headquarters in Mississauga, Ont.

Alliance Atlantis liked the expandability of MOM and the fact that its development team, which currently uses the .Net environment, was able to write MOM events directly into their code, Kent said. It started considering the product after the 2000 release, but eventually decided to wait to implement it after reviewing the Microsoft roadmap. Kent said they wanted to implement the 2005 version to cash in on the advanced reporting and maintenance functionality.

Another customer participating in the roundtable discussion was John Mangold, Dell Computer Corp.’s national manger, Canada advanced systems group.

“Over time we are really struggling with doing more with less,” he explained, from the perspective of dealing with Dell customers. “With the MOM layer, we are able to take routine, typical tasks or what is referred to as common failures and conditions that happen, and are able to automate them and self heal. We are able to do that with our environment and then have more skill sets available to make the environment better.”

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