Microsoft Takes Aim At Systems Management Headaches

Along with the launch of Forefront Client Security, Microsoft's anti-malware offering for business desktops and servers, the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant also rolled out System Center Essentials 2007, which enables midsize companies to manage their network functions through one console.

Forefront and System Center Essentials are built on common architecture that's designed for better reporting and visibility, making it easier to manage protection elements such as antivirus and antispyware, said Margaret Dawson, group product manager for security and access products at Microsoft.

System Center Essentials includes many management features that Microsoft sells to larger organizations in its Systems Management Server and Systems Center Configuration Manager 2007 products, and it leverages Active Directory, Dawson said.

In environments with various point products, the lack of information sharing between the disparate parts takes away the all important auditing capability, according to Dawson.

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Microsoft has also sprinkled in the SQL reporting and alert management capabilities of its Operations Manager product to allow Forefront Client Security to give a holistic view of the enterprise, Dawson said.

Organizations can direct this information into data warehousing functions to gain reporting visibility into what's happening on their systems, she added.

Rick Opal, vice president at Peters and Associates, an Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based solution provider, said the integration of security and management provides immediate cost benefits for customers.

"Given the complexity of customers' networks, having one less interface to manage is going to save us time and provide value to customers," Opal said.

System Center Essentials' integration of security and management offers "great opportunities for the channel" to build additional solutions and services, Dawson said.