While Microsoft’s focus on its making its applications (almost) exclusively available for its own software stack is understandable, I have often thought that in the systems management sector the strategy had the effect of restricting Microsoft’s potential market and increasing opportunities for its rivals.
The company’s decision to offer cross-platform extensions for System Center therefore makes good business sense, but is no less surprising as a strategic about-turn.
Specifically, Microsoft will enable the management of Linux and Unix servers from within its own systems management software. The functionality is based on Web Services for Management (WS-Management) and the OpenPegasus project, which is an open-source implementation of the DMTF CIM and WBEM standards.
Additionally, Microsoft announced that “it will be joining the OpenPegasus Steering Committee and contribute code back to the open source community under the Microsoft Public License, an Open Source Initiative (OSI)-approved license.” This is the first major use of Ms-PL that I am aware of since it was approved by the OSI in October.
Sam Ramji points out that “it simply makes great technical and business sense to cooperate with the OpenPegasus community to build upon industry-standards based cross-platform technology,” and the System Center business would appear to be an ideal testing bed for increased interoperability and open source involvement from Microsoft.
When I have previously question Microsoft about the fact that its previous System Center strategy restricted its addressable market the official response was that the company was happy to provide opportunities outside its expertise for partners.
The new strategy will therefore see Microsoft stepping on a few toes, and it’s no surprise to the company also talking up opportunities its systems management partners. Specifically Quest, Novell and Xandros are all on board with functionality to enable System Center users to manage third party applications on top of Windows, Linux and Unix. In fact, if you read Joe Brockmeier, Microsoft’s new Linux management capabilities are all “thanks to Novell”.
One question that remains is whether users will trust the management of their Linux an Unix servers to Microsoft. My guess is that the new cross-platform features will be highly attractive to Microsoft-dominated shops that have made a commitment to System Center and want to reduce th number of systems management products they use. Unix/Linux-heavy shops are unlikely to be distracted away from their existing heterogeneous management tools, however.