Microsoft and Novell unveil cross-platform monitoring tools

In another expansion to their 18-month-old interoperability agreement, Microsoft and Novell introduced software tools designed to let systems administrators monitor Linux, Unix, and Windows servers from within Windows.

In an interview with BetaNews, Joe Wagner, senior VP and general manager of Novell's Systems and Resource Management unit, said Novell will work with Microsoft to enhance a product rolled out at this week's Microsoft Management Summit (MMS) in Las Vegas: the Systems Center Operations Manager 2007 Crossplatform Extensions.

"This is a great milestone," Wagner told BetaNews. "I really applaud Microsoft for joining the open source community."

The Novell exec explained that these new extensions will take advantage of technology obtained through his company's recent acquisition of best practices and disaster recovery firm PlateSpin, letting administrators view and perform health monitoring across Windows, Linux and Unix systems "holistically, through a single 'window pane.'"

From there, administrators with Linux servers, for instance, will be able to drop down into Novell's ZENworks -- a set of tools that runs on both Windows and Linux servers -- to perform asset, configuration, or patch management.

"This is just the first step, though. As we continue on [with building the extensions], you'll be able to perform other functions. But we're still in discussions about exactly where to take this next," according to the Novell exec.

Slated for general availability in the first half of next year, the cross-platform extensions are now entering public beta, along with two other projects: a set of software connectors supporting third-party management tools such as HP OpenView and IBM Tivoli, plus Microsoft's System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008, for managing virtualized infrastructures and configuring and deploying virtual machines.

Wagner told BetaNews that he views the new cross-platform extensions as expanding on an existing "systems management" plank within a set of Microsoft/Novell interoperability initiatives first launched in late 2006. Other initiatives announced to date have ranged from "open document" interoperability to Silverlight/Moonlight, for instance.

In terms of Linux distributions, the extensions will become available on Novell's SuSE Linux first. "But other Linux distributions will be able to use the enhancements, too," Wagner contended.

Along the way, he said, Novell and Microsoft will be contributing open source code to the OpenPegasus Project's Common Object Manager (CIMOM), including "interoperable providers," for collecting management data and making it accessible to management services.

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