From the EditorWinning Over a Cynic

Joshua Hoffman

I'm a cynic. Yes, it's true. I know we New Yorkers are generally known for our trusting and humble naivete, but every once in a while, a jaded soul slips through the Lincoln Tunnel and spoils it all. Being a cynic, I have a tendency to question things. It can be hard to win me over.

My colleagues in Redmond may not like hearing this, but I was somewhat cynical when Microsoft introduced the System Center brand a few years back. Don't get me wrong—I'm an SMS guy through and through. As a desktop deployment and management specialist in a former life, Systems Management Server (after v2.0 anyway) was a critical tool in my arsenal. But as the System Center brand evolved, and the product line grew, my natural tendency to question reared its head.

Was this really necessary? Would it benefit the customer in the end? Would diversifying the product line have a negative impact on the flagship management products we've all come to know and love?

I have to admit, though, despite my initial foreboding, System Center has won me over. SMS and MOM (now known as Configuration Manger and Operations Manager) have evolved into world-class management products, adding powerful (even surprising) new functionality with every release. And not only has their value not been diminished by the addition of new products—it's actually been significantly amplified.

In recent months, we've explored the new Configuration Manager and Operations Manager products, as well as some of the other early add-ons to the System Center lineup (such as Capacity Planner, Desired Configuration Monitor, and Essentials). As you'll see, this month we dive into some very powerful new additions.

Edwin Yuen begins our coverage by showing you how Virtual Machine Manager 2007 not only helps centralize the management of your virtualized infrastructure but also how it can help you break down some of those pesky migration barriers, allowing you to consolidate legacy hardware into new virtual machines. Calvin Keaton guides us through the new version of Data Protection Manager, which enables powerful disk-based backup solutions not only for standard user data (like documents) but also enterprise data, such as the critical information stored in Exchange Server. Finally, Paul Bourgeau introduces the first hosted System Center solution—the Asset Inventory Service.

Let me know what you think of the new additions to the System Center lineup. E-mail me at —Joshua Hoffman

Thank you to the following Microsoft technical experts: Karandeep Anand, Joseph Dadzie, Ray Hayes, KC Lemson, Bill Scheidel, Jeffrey Snover, Mike Stephens, Kevin Sullivan, Jim Truher, and Winni Verhoef.

© 2008 Microsoft Corporation and CMP Media, LLC. All rights reserved; reproduction in part or in whole without permission is prohibited.