FREMONT, Calif., April 29, 2002 — Digital Fountain, a late-stage startup in Fremont, Calif., is accustomed to solving the challenges of customers who need to transport extra-large data and media files over constrained networks, or to manage the logjam of many simultaneous downloads. Its flagship product, Transporter Fountain, brings together theoretical computer science and network protocols to solve this problem.
Last month, however, Digital Fountain faced a challenge of its own. The company wanted to ready a preliminary version of its new product, which integrates with Microsoft System Management Server (SMS), in time to demonstrate it at the Microsoft Management Summit, the major IT-management conference, which gathers this week in Las Vegas. But with the show’s opening date looming large, Digital Fountain’s engineers were still deeply involved in basic design issues.
“We were looking at three months of work that had to be completed in a month,” recalls Tom Foladare, Digital Fountain’s director of business development.
To pull that rabbit out of its hat, Digital Fountain turned to the Microsoft Management Alliance. “Where other companies say ‘here are our docs, you figure it out,’ Microsoft really rolled up its sleeves to help us develop our solution in time,” Foladare says. “They got together with our engineering teams and showed us three options for the integration we wanted. Our goal — to have a product to demonstrate at the show — became their goal, and we couldn’t have done it without their help. We’re now well on the way to offering a solution compatible with SMS that will blow away prospective users with its capacity for fast, reliable file distribution.”
Helping Companies to Extend Microsoft’s Management Vision
Digital Fountain is one of a rapidly growing number of companies in the IT-management space turning to Microsoft and its Microsoft Management Alliance. They find information, advice and support in developing and marketing products that are based on, and extend, Microsoft Windows Management Services and products, including the built-in Windows management technologies, and Microsoft Systems Management Server, Microsoft Operations Manager 2000 and Microsoft Application Center 2000.
“We applaud everything that Microsoft is doing to realize its management vision, including the Microsoft Management Alliance,” says Stephen Kangas, vice president, strategic alliances for NetIQ, co-sponsor of this week’s Microsoft Management Summit in Las Vegas (other sponsors are Altiris and Microsoft). “Through the combination of Microsoft’s management vision and the companies that have built on and extended that vision, the Microsoft platform is highly manageable, on a par with other enterprise computing platforms. Microsoft’s vision is the correct one and we’re glad to be moving forward with them.”
Microsoft’s goal, explains David Hamilton, director of Microsoft’s Management Business Group, “is to make Windows the best-managed platform in the enterprise. However, we understand the enterprise contains many heterogeneous components, and there are many aspects to managing systems. Hence, from the very beginning, we’ve wanted not only to offer solutions ourselves, but to develop a rich partner ecosystem to provide great end-to-end solutions for our customers. The Microsoft Management Alliance is our primary means to enable this broad industry participation.”
Formed in October 2000 as part of a broad announcement of the Microsoft’s vision and strategy for IT management solutions by Bill Gates, the company’s chairman and chief software architect, the Microsoft Management Alliance now includes 1,588 individual members from 620 companies around the world. Those member companies range from the largest computer manufacturers and enterprise software vendors to smaller companies and individual consultants.
They’re turning to the Microsoft Management Alliance for a growing range of free resources and services including product databases, discussion groups, white papers and documents, calendars of training opportunities and marketing events, and links to programs such as the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN). The Microsoft Management Alliance has organized preview events, most recently to give members advance information to take advantage of the forthcoming version of SMS, code-named “Topaz.” The heart of the Microsoft Management Alliance is its members-only Web site, which can be accessed from an FAQ at http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/management/articles/mmafaq.asp .
“We’re seeing growing interest in the Alliance among companies of all sizes as they realize that Microsoft offers a wealth of free resources to help them develop products that extend the Microsoft management vision to new platforms and new environments,” says Martin Dey, senior product manager for the Alliance. “The Alliance Web site is the single portal that brings together all of these resources from throughout the company so, for a manufacturer, developer or consultant in IT management, this is truly an indispensable offering.”
Providing Valuable Perspective, Support, and a Community
Alliance members agree.
“The Microsoft Management Alliance is very important to Altiris because it gives us a preview of the management technologies that Microsoft will release in the future,” says Dwain Kinghorn, chief technology officer for Altiris, the Lindon, Utah-based developer of Web-enabled network management solutions. “It helps us to plan our product roadmap because we have a better understanding of the Microsoft management strategy moving forward.” For example, based on its participation in the Alliance, Altiris has developed products that extend SMS to support UNIX platforms and that provide a Web console interface for SMS.
Meanwhile, Netreon Inc., the Mountain View, Calif.-based developer of storage-area network (SAN) management solutions, praises the Microsoft Management Alliance for providing information and resources to take advantage of Microsoft technologies.
“Microsoft has created a rich, technical infrastructure, as well as higher level applications, that developers like us can use to address more and more of the enterprise-level needs of our customers,” says Tom Cromelin, director of marketing for Netreon, which has integrated the Microsoft Management Console, Performance Manager, Microsoft Operations Manager, and Visio into its SAN design and management solutions. “The Microsoft Management Alliance is important to our exploiting this rich infrastructure. Microsoft has been very responsive to our queries and helpful in resolving technical issues we’ve raised about solutions that integrate with Microsoft .NET Services and Microsoft applications.”
For London-based 1E Ltd., one of the more than 200 Microsoft Management Alliance members based outside of the U.S., a key benefit is the direct communications it provides both to Microsoft and to other Alliance members. “The Microsoft Management Alliance is very significant to a company like ours because it gives us a forum to talk to Microsoft directly, as well as a forum to talk to other companies in this value-added space,” says Sumir Karayi, managing director of 1E Ltd., which makes products that extend both SMS and the broader range of Microsoft Windows Management Services. “We have questions all the time that relate to product direction and implementation, and the Alliance is the ideal place to have these questions asked and answered.”
With a broad array of IT-management companies already attracted to the Microsoft Management Alliance, Microsoft now plans to make it even more useful to them. Microsoft’s Dey points to plans to add content about the Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF), which will assist the growing number of consultants who are turning to the Web site.
“The Alliance has to be more than just a product and technology space because our members want more than that,” Dey says. “By expanding to cover the services space as well, we increase our ability to help companies offer the fullest range of management products and services to their customers.”
Another goal for the Alliance is to expand its online community. Microsoft plans to extend the private newsgroup so members have greater access to the product teams and testers responsible for Microsoft Windows Management Services. The company also plans to offer an expanded forum in which Alliance members can interact with the customers for their products and services.
“With our successful partnerships to date, and with our plans for partnering in the future, we continue to make life easier for the knowledge worker and the IT administrator who has to manage increasingly complex enterprise networks,” Hamilton says. “Making life easier for those administrators is the reason for everything we do.”