REDMOND, Wash, Dec. 10, 2002 — Great software products are an essential component of successful enterprise computing environments, but theyre not enough to ensure IT success. Microsoft continually works with its enterprise customers and industry partners to understand how to best deliver the products, support and services customers need. To ensure that enterprise computing architectures and solutions deliver maximum benefit in the shortest possible time, IT managers have told Microsoft they also need specific guidance for implementations and operation based on proven best practices — models for services and support that give IT staffs extensive documentation and consulting for planning IT projects, and appropriate levels and types of support for issues that arise once systems are deployed.
Over the past year, Microsoft has augmented its product offerings with comprehensive solutions that go beyond traditional product-based support to include proven architectural infrastructure designs as well as guidance around in-depth services and support for the unique environments in which IT managers are using Microsoft products. This effort includes previously released, industry-specific vertical solutions, such as the Microsoft BizTalk Accelerator for HIPAA, which facilitates payment solutions in the healthcare industry.
Focusing horizontally across a broad spectrum of enterprise computing on the other hand, the Microsoft Systems Architecture (MSA) provides a prescribed, proven core infrastructure environment in which Microsoft and leading hardware and service providers come together to test and make available implementations that minimize the time and cost of planning, building, and managing a Windows 2000 Server-based infrastructure.
Today, Microsoft expands on its solution offerings in two significant ways: the introduction of Microsoft Solutions for Management (MSM) and the latest MSA offering, Microsoft Systems Architecture for the Enterprise Data Center (MSA EDC). Both offerings are the result of collaboration between Microsoft and other industry-leading providers. To explain these offerings and how they relate to each other and to the broader Microsoft solutions effort, PressPass spoke with two Microsoft executives responsible for them, David Hamilton , director of the Management Business Group, and Jim Hebert , general manager, Windows Server Product Management Group.
PressPass: David, MSM is a completely new offering. Tell us about it.
Hamilton : MSM is a comprehensive solution intended to help companies implement and achieve operational excellence in managing a Windows enterprise environment. Together with our partners, we show customers how to optimize the use of products such as Microsoft Systems Management Server and Microsoft Operations Manager in their specific environments. We show them how to take advantage of the Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF) in their specific environments to quickly implement and automate proven industry best practices to address customer challenges such as critical patch management and software distribution, new application installation and monitoring and control services.
The solution includes a full scenario with a series of guides for addressing each of these challenges. For example, the “MSM for Monitoring and Control of Windows 2000 Services and Applications” scenario provides best practices for operational management and monitoring of Windows 2000 Server, Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server and the Microsoft Active Directory service by using Microsoft Operations Manager 2000. The solution also offers product operations guides that explain how to deploy and use the Microsoft products consistent with MOF, and solution operations guides that apply best practices to this specific scenario. Additionally, each customer receives an operations guide with recommendations customized for its specific environment.
These guides are available for all the scenarios. Microsoft also provides an Operations Assessment Service to identify top issues, process gaps, technology gaps, and the operational maturity of an enterprises IT operating environment. Customers can think of MSM as a blueprint for comprehensive enterprise management of the Microsoft Windows platform.
PressPass: Jim, the MSA EDC is the latest component in a series of offerings that Microsoft introduced last July. Tell us about it.
Hebert: The MSA program is designed to make it faster, easier, and more cost-effective for enterprise customers to implement solutions and architectures based on the Windows 2000 Server platform and .NET Enterprise Servers by providing qualified, prescriptive architectural guidance that has been implemented, tested and proven to help lower implementation risks, improve ROI and reduce time to market. We do this by developing standardized enterprise-class architectures that we first implement and test in our labs to ensure that the levels of security, reliability, availability, manageability, and performance exceed the expectations of IT personnel responsible for mission-critical applications. The designs incorporate the hardware and software necessary for a complete data center infrastructure –including operating systems, servers, storage, and networking — all optimized for a Windows-based environment. The implementations are documented and provided to our customers along with services and implementation guides. The first component in this series, MSA for the Internet Data Center, focused on helping customers get their online data center operations up quickly and effectively.
The MSA EDC, which is available now, provides pre-tested, fully-documented guidance for building and managing an enterprise data-center configuration of software and hardware — backed with essential services and support — that reliably delivers key enterprise IT services such as messaging, authentication, access control, database, file and print, and Web-access network connectivity.
PressPass: How do Microsofts industry partners fit into all this?
Hamilton : Our industry partners are a core element to delivering these solutions to our customers. Microsoft has been engaged with its partners in the labs — planning, building, thoroughly testing and documenting the enterprise data center MSA and the MSM. We’ve worked closely to ensure that the integration of Microsoft products and partners technologies is optimized for the solutions and customer’s needs. MSA for EDC and MSM bring together people, process and technology to enable operational excellence. Companies can work toward achieving operational excellence with industry-proven prescriptive guidance, training, products and consulting services that optimize the operation of the Windows platform for mission-critical services, thereby reducing total cost of ownership.
MSM is available today from Avanade Inc., the global technology integrator for Microsoft solutions in the enterprise, as well as through Microsoft Consulting Services. Service providers can work with customers to implement and customize the solutions, which provide industry best practices that have been thoroughly tested and documented; assuring customers they can achieve similar results.
Microsoft has worked with several providers to develop the solutions to ensure that the integration of Microsoft products and partner’s technologies is optimized for the solutions and customer’s needs. MSA for EDC partners include Avanade Inc., Brocade Communications Systems Inc., CommVault Systems Inc., HP, Hitachi Data Systems Corp., McDATA Corp., NetIQ Corp., Nortel Networks and Unisys Corp.
PressPass: Who are the customers for these services?
Hamilton : Both MSM and MSA EDC are designed for customers with enterprise environments. Our early adopters for MSM are companies including CNF Inc., the parent of Emery Airfreight. But any business or organization of nearly any size that wants to implement and manage their IT environment smarter — that means more effectively and less expensively — can benefit from the best practices and guidance in MSM and MSA.
Hebert : Thats right. Our early adopters for MSA EDC are companies that want to build or expand their enterprise data center environments, including Fortune 500 companies Clear Channel and ServiceMaster. But you dont have to be a Fortune 500 company to benefit from either MSA or MSM. For example, since we introduced MSA in July, weve found companies with as few as 25 employees have adopted the offering and found it immensely helpful. We designed MSA to be scalable and it is — scalable up, out, and down. Companies and organizations can adopt the entire offering or just one or more modular components within it — for example, only the guidance on Active Directory, or on Web-based access.
PressPass: How should customers think about these offerings in relation to each other? When might they choose one versus the other?
Hebert : All of the Microsoft service offerings complement each other. I dont think its a “one-or-the-other” proposition. How customers use either or both of these offerings depends on their current situations; the solutions are designed to make it easier to deploy and manage a Windows 2000-based system and reduce time and cost to benefit. Customers that want to deploy or migrate to a new enterprise infrastructure, or to expand an existing infrastructure, should focus in particular on the MSA EDC offering.
If customers are focused on enhancing their management of an existing architecture or solution, rather than deploying a new architecture or solution, then the MSM offering will be spot-on for their requirements. Either way, were applying proven best practices to deliver faster time to benefit for the customer.
Hamilton : Of course, we also may see scenarios in which customer requirements change. That is, customers may start off wanting to enhance the management of their current solution and then decide to expand their deployment, which might mean starting with MSM.
PressPass: How should interested customers follow-up on these announcements?
Hamilton : More information on both of these offerings is available on the Microsoft Web site (see links at right). Customers can go to the site to contact us or to find out about the service providers who are also offering these services.