Q&A: Making Windows the World’s Best-Managed Platform

LAS VEGAS, May 3, 2002 — Brian Valentine, senior vice president for the Windows Division at Microsoft, closed the first Microsoft Management Summit today with a keynote address that highlights his vision for the future of Microsoft management solutions — particularly the two initiatives known as the Client Manager project and the Server Manager project.

Brian Valentine, Microsoft Senior Vice President, Windows Division

The Microsoft Management Summit, which is for IT professionals who want to learn how to manage their Microsoft Windows-based environments better, is an extension of the popular conference formerly called the “SMS and W2K User Conference.” The new summit has 50 percent more sessions and provides a much deeper and broader exploration of Windows management. Microsoft is sponsoring the event in partnership with Altiris and NetIQ, with support from myITforum.com and Compaq.

As leader of the Windows Division at Microsoft, Valentine is responsible for every aspect of Windows operating systems — from security to manageability — and he has pledged to make Windows the world’s best-managed platform.

As a high school student, Valentine originally planned to pursue a career in law and politics, but changed his mind after being introduced to computers during a geometry course at Centralia Community College. By the time he graduated from Eastern Washington University in 1983, he was hooked on computers and already an experienced software engineer. After spending a few years at Intel, Valentine joined Microsoft in 1987.

Among his many successes at Microsoft, Valentine led the development and launch of Exchange Server versions 4.0, 5.0 and 5.5, and Windows 2000, which earned him a reputation as an outstanding leader who knows how to motivate people to get things done.

PressPass spoke with Valentine before his keynote at the Microsoft Management Summit to discuss his vision for enterprise management at Microsoft.

PressPass: You’ve spoken often about your vision of making Windows the world’s best- managed platform. Why is that so important to Microsoft and its enterprise customers?

Valentine: Management is at the very heart of deploying and ensuring the availability of applications, and making sure computing environments are secure. For customers to use our products in enterprise environments, to deploy the latest versions of our products, and to ensure that our products are secure and reliable in their environments, they need great management solutions.

We deliver those management solutions through a number of steps. First, we have to build our applications and our operating system to be inherently manageable, so that products that come along later can benefit from the fundamental work we’ve done there. Second, we have to build great management solutions ourselves to provide outstanding management capability. And third, we have to work with partners so they can extend our management solutions for the enterprise.

In the Windows Division, we take a comprehensive and uncompromising approach to manageability, because it is a key component of everything else our customers rely on the Windows platform to deliver.

PressPass: You say that manageability is at the heart of availability, deployment and security — many of the things customers need and are concerned about. How is manageability the linchpin of these three issues?

Valentine: Let me start by talking about availability. More and more Microsoft servers and server applications are moving into datacenter and mission-critical environments. For Microsoft to provide solutions for those environments, we have to make sure those systems are incredibly reliable and available. Unless we can give customers very high degrees of availability across their systems — for example “five nines” [99.999 percent] availability — we can’t expect them to deploy Exchange broadly and use it in mission-critical applications, or to deploy SQL in mission-critical databases, or to use Windows as their mission-critical platform.

And they can’t get that level of availability and reliability without great management, because to achieve five nines of availability they must be able to poll and manage and track their system, and to be forewarned about potential problems before they occur. They have to be able to get ahead of the curve and solve the problem before it causes down time.

PressPass: How does management factor into deployment?

Valentine: Our customers want the business value associated with the next generation of Microsoft products. They want to deploy Windows XP, because they see the business value it offers to knowledge workers. They want to upgrade to the next version of Office, because it has new features and functionality to help their people work more effectively. At the same time, they often view the actual deployment of those products as a constraint.

It’s critical that we make it very easy for customers to deploy the latest versions of our products, to leverage the business value of those products and remove deployment as a cost that negatively impacts their return on investment (ROI) for the operating system or application. Deployment is a key focus for management. Systems Management Server (SMS), in particular, which is our software distribution product, is all about making it easier for customers to deploy Windows, Office or other business applications and achieve a quicker ROI.

PressPass: You’ve said management is at the heart of security, which is a priority for every customer. Can you explain that?

Valentine: Sure. Security clearly is a fundamental focus for Microsoft, especially with Trustworthy Computing. We talk about security in terms of getting secure and staying secure. We want to help our customers get their systems to a highly secure state, and once they’ve achieved that level of security, to maintain it.

But getting secure and staying secure are management operations. Getting secure involves effective deployment. It involves deploying the latest security patches, and deploying the latest service packs to get a system into a secure state. Staying secure involves tracking the state of that system; making sure the right patches are applied; making sure the latest updates are available at a particular time; and making sure that other applications aren’t installing components in ways that undermine system security. That kind of monitoring and tracking are also management actions.

PressPass: How does this week’s Microsoft Management Summit fit into the company’s commitment to enterprise customers?

Valentine: Microsoft has participated in events like this before, of course, but this is the first time we have had the opportunity to provide our customers with a comprehensive view of our entire management offering. It’s a clear indication of our commitment to the management needs of our customers, as well as our broader focus on management throughout Microsoft. Given our customers’ strategic need for management, we’re putting specific efforts in place to make sure they are knowledgeable about the solutions we have available, the partnerships we have right now with other companies, and our roadmap for the future.

PressPass: What is your roadmap for the future?

Valentine: The roadmap I’m outlining today explains two specific efforts at Microsoft — the Client Manager project and the Server Manager project — that are focused on providing scenario-based management solutions to meet customer needs in the next generation of computing.

The Client Manager project evolves the technology in SMS and what we’ve learned from customers about their experiences with SMS, to develop a more complete solution for Windows clients of all types. It focuses on digitizing IT knowledge and developing stronger ROI for knowledge workers.

The Server Manager Project is the evolution of a range of products, including Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) and Applications Center, from simple server management to service management. It focuses on distributed .NET services, both inside and outside enterprise firewalls, providing reliability and availability tracking for those services and making it very easy to manage them in an enterprise environment.

As we roll out these next-generation management solutions, which are long-term efforts, we believe we’ll be able to provide many shorter-term solutions for customers. For example, in the next few months we’ll make available a series of solutions that are oriented around particular management scenarios. These solutions for management involve taking our current products — MOM and SMS, for instance — and building specific content processes, expertise and partner relationships to resolve particular management scenarios more quickly and effectively.

PressPass: What solutions are available to customers today?

Valentine: This week, we’ve talked in more detail about the next version of our SMS product, previously code named Topaz, and now named System Management Server 2003. This is a key additional management solution for our enterprise customers, adding the capability to manage mobile users wherever they may be, however remote and varied the connections may be, to connect through CE devices, such as PDAs, and other non-PC Windows devices.

But SMS 2003 is only part of the solution. In the past 12 months we’ve added two new management products for Microsoft: Microsoft Operations Manager, designed to help customers manage servers and server applications like Exchange; and Windows 2000 Active Directory, an Application Center that is designed to help customers manage and scale out Web environments. And in the months ahead, we’ll announce even more new management solutions to help our customers take advantage of the full power and value of the Windows platform. Later this summer, we will deliver a series of service offerings providing both product and prescriptive content for the most common management scenarios customers face.

PressPass: How does better management fit into Trustworthy Computing and Microsoft’s commitment to helping customers create more secure systems?

Valentine: We hear our customers loud and clear — first and foremost, they need tools to help them better manage security patches and fixes. The Value Pack for SMS 2.0, available in beta this summer, will offer patch management and full platform support for customers already using SMS 2.0 to distribute critical software to enterprise networks. For those customers who do not have SMS, Microsoft Software Update Services, currently in beta, is a free tool based on the Windows Update architecture, developed to give administrators basic security patch management control. We’re committed to providing customers with management solutions to meet the challenges they face on a daily basis in the ever growing enterprise environment.

Related Posts