Live from Microsoft Management Summit 2008

Tim Mangan is at Microsoft Management Summit 2008 (MMS), Microsoft's annual show dedicated to Management Products, this week in Las Vegas.


Tim Mangan is at Microsoft Management Summit 2008 (MMS), Microsoft's annual show dedicated to Management Products, this week in Las Vegas.  Held at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas this year, MMS is the annual conference for System Center, including System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM, formerly SMS), System Center Operations Manager (SCOM, formerly MOM),  plus System Center Server Virtualization (formerly Virtual Server, now Hyper-V), System Center Microsoft  Application Virtualization (MAV, formerly SoftGrid), and a slew of other related things.   This report covers the majority of the show and is filed live from the show floor.


The show continues to grow, with over 4000 attendees this year, and the registration had to be closed 4 weeks early due to space issues.  The exhibit floor was well visited by the crowd.  The isles were (artificially?) small the first day with the reception and with small tables in the isles forcing the crowd to within touching range by vendors in the booths.  This seemed effective in getting attendees to stop in the booths, but it sure made it hard to get around.


In addition to Microsoft, Intel, Dell, HP,  AMD, and  Citrix were present.  Additionally there were a number of vendors for products that add into this space.  There were also a few consultants with booths.  More on some of these booths later.


There were three keynote addresses at the show, one for each of the main days.  The day before and after also had many technical sessions - and I am kicking myself for not staying the extra day at the end because they added a couple of things I would have liked to see. 


Tuesday Keynote

On Tuesday, Bob Muglia, Senior Vice President of Microsoft's Server and Tools Business  was the primary speaker.   Titled, "Dynamic IT: Transforming Management & the Datacenter", Bob once again updated us on the "Dynamic Systems Initiative" (DSI) that he has been talking about for a few years.  This initiative is how Microsoft describes their efforts to help IT manage their systems and major applications.  (See this video from last year for more info on DSI) Microsoft has been building management capabilities for several years now, and will be continuing to do so.  Bob brought out several speakers to help address specific products and run demos.


Michael Kelly, Lead Program Manager for SCCM, demonstrated SCCM 2007 SP1[CHECK].  I noticed two new (at least to me) things in this demo.  First, they are working with partner vendors to help in using SCCM to configure vendor specific settings.  In the demo, he picked a Dell extension called the (Bare Metal) Server Deployment Pack  that you would download from Dell (available "before fall")  that added options for a PowerEdge Server.  This allowed him to create a new server configuration for that hardware that set up the bios for virtualization and enabled a raid-5 array, in addition to the usual OS configuration. (I talked to HP later on to see if they had such a pack.  They do not, but they have a white paper (see ) that explains how to make your own based on  their "SmartScript".   Second he demonstrated the Microsoft Deployment Manager, which formerly was known as BDD.  This rename reflects that we are dealing with servers and desktops.  The second new item was that the Deployment Manager now support the optional use of Multicast.  This would allow multiple machine deployments of a common configuration using less bandwidth (but of course you have to be willing to enable multicast in your routers, which a shop large enough to be interested in this feature probably will not enable).


Next up, Rakesh {?}  talked about the new version of System Center Virtual Machine Manager, and he and Bob announced the availability of the Beta today.  The existing VMM supports the older Virtual Server product, but not Hyper-v.  This means that Hyper-v based machines (Hyper-v has a release candidate out but is not yet released) must be individually managed until the new version is released.


In the demo, Microsoft highlighted the multi-vendor support built into SCVMM.  They demonstrated using SCVMM  managing both a Hyper-V  and a VMware ESX cluster.  This included visibility of state and performance parameters.  They also demonstrated  moving a hyper-v based virtual machine from one hyper-v box to another.  Note that the virtual machine was not live, and Bob explained that live migration is coming but will not be in the release.  But they did demonstrate using SCVMM to do a v-motion on the VMware cluster.  With all this talk about being the first vendor with "heterogeneous " support for virtual machine management, it was not lost on me that somehow the word Citrix never came up in this demo.  So Microsoft can manage hyper-v and VMware (but not Xen, today) making the case that you need heterogenious support.  Citrix can manage Xen and Microsoft (I think). Hmm....


Also shown in this demo was the use of powershell to do all of the work.  Rakesh claimed that all of the commands run on the hyper-v servers are viewable and editable as powershell scripts which should allow people to easily develop custom scripts to do things that Microsoft does not supply out of the box.


Also shown, but not well enough explained was a checkbox when defining a server labeled "High Availability Server".  The claim was made that checking that box would automatically do everything needed to add the server to a HA cluster.



Day 2 Keynote

Brad Anderson, General Manager, Management and Services Division, ran the day 2 keynote.  Brad dove down into DSI in a keynote titled "Managing the Dynamic Desktop".  He began with a message here was not unlike that of Citrix - young people entering the workforce have different expectations of how they do things and called it "Extreme Mobility".  But the central core of the message was that we need to think user centric, not pc centric in our thinking.  This is a message that I really resonate with.  To the user, it is all about the user experience - having their "stuff", applications and data.  And this means whatever device or location they happen to be using.


DSI was described with four  core areas: 

  • User Focused: " Delivering the right resources to users the right way".
  • Unified -virtualized: "Managing the full combinations of all types of virtualization and physical"
  • Process-Led/Model Driven: "Capturing Best Practices & Processes though Collective Knowledge"
  • Service Enabled: "Guidance on how applications should be architected".


Edwin Yuen, Sr. Product Manager System Center.  Demoed a desktop with OS delivered via SCCM and with virtual applications on Vista. One underappreciated change in Vista is "offline file and folders".  This was used to keep files associated with application use centrally , not unlike "roaming profiles".   Also shown was the same user using Terminal Server to access the same virtual app and files, and then a VDI equivalent (using Xen Desktop), all with a "consistent working experience" . 


SCCM 2007 SP1 will be in May, and the R2 Release Candidate in July.  This will include updated capabilities of the  Asset Matrix  purchase to "Assess, Deploy, and Update from the Desktop to the Datacenter & Beyond".


MDOP 2008 was "announced" for Q3 release (not new news).  This includes Microsoft Application Virtualization (SoftGrid) 4.5, updates to Desktop Recovery, and other component who's name I did not catch.  They stated that MDOP 2007 was the "fastest selling version 1 product in the history of the volume licensing program".  They also stated the intent to make MDOP updates every 6 months in the future (in another session I heard "no less than once a year").


Dave Randall, Program Manager System Center performed demos around Unified-Virtualized.  Primarily highlighted integration of System Center and Intell VPro.  It is kind of like doing RDP into the NIC.  He Talked about having "15 scenarios" out of the box for out of band management.  So in these scenarios, you can manage changes to a powered off PC remotely.  They showed an example of powering off machines not being used.  They showed powering into bios only and making bios changes remotely - a remote control session without booting into the OS. They also talked to  an IDE redirection scenario where you have a bad OS and can boot the PC from another remote disk disk and access PC disk to repair.   Not necessarily new stuff, but integrated right into System Center.


For the Process-Led/Model Driven part of the keynote, the discussion was around driving operational processes based on models.  System Center uses four model types: Configuration, Health, Business Process, IT & Security Policy, Regulator Compliance, Capacity.  Individual products apply to subsets of these four model types.  These models are also extensible, such as Configuration Packs for SCCM, Management Packs and Reporting Packs for SCOM, and Solution Packs for System Center Service Manager (whenever that ships).  "Microsoft Operations Framework V4" was announced as being released to the web today.  This describes the framework in which to produce these packs.


Bill Anderson, Lead Program Manager,  System Center.  Performed NAP demos.   Protection/Quarantine, and remediation were shown.  In this demo, a PC was brought online and NAP checked it out.  The user was immediately notified of non-compliance and put into a quarantined state, then repaired and the user was notified and could access resources.  They also talked to supporting "what if" enforcement policies (i.e. apply a policy that doesn't quarantine to determine how many devices would be effected if  enforcement was turned on.


For the  Service-Enabled section,   they started with a describing of two types of services, "Finished Services" and "Attached Services".  The distinction was clearly lost on the crowd.  "Finished Services", in this sense are services offered  in the web.  Windows Update was stated as the largest existing example (600 million PCs were updated last month).  Also Asset Inventory Services.  "Attached Services" are services that the enterprise houses for lan-attached use. WSUS is the counterpart example to Windows Update;  Asset Intelligence is the other.  Maybe someone understood why this distinction was important?


Neal Myerson, Lead Program Manager System Center, gave a demo of something new.  This was a "live preview", not a product nor announcement yet, called "Attached Knowledge Services".  It is intended to be used to allow a company to ask the question, "how do my operations compare to other companies".  Basically, a company would send SCCM/SCOM data to Microsoft with identifying information stripped out.  A "Finished Service" there would process and present a scorecard to compare how you are doing in relation to other companies.  So , example, you could compare your client up-time stats to others.  You can filter who to compare against by things like industry type or company size.  You can also drill down into another company (without seeing company name) and see what hardware and what software and configuration they are using to achieve their results.    Eventually, Microsoft hopes to have a notification engine added so that Microsoft can advice/alert customers of potential problems based on their configuration when Microsoft sees and/or solves an issue for another customer.  I am sure that some will have issue with sending the data, even scrubbed, but there is potential here for a new kind of collaboration.


The keynote wound down with a display of the System Center roadmap for 2008/2009 releases.  We will have to wait for the slides to be made available, but there was probably nothing new on it that wasn't already known.


And the final teaser in the keynote was a demo was a thumb drive plugged in and giving access to virtualized apps and data.  I think it was Kidaro and SoftGrid, but they really didn't say.


Speaking of Kidaro,

I saw it for the first time here.  While Microsoft doesn't close on the purchase until sometime in May, they are moving forward quickly with plans.  Kidaro sits on top of Virtual PC to create a more seamless user experience.  It provides application shortcuts on the main PC that launches a virtual PC session in the background, runs the app there, and gives the user a seamless window like experience.  Copy/paste between sessions is supported also.  There is a bunch more as well (but also glaring gaps like not having file type associations for those apps taken care of).  Anyway, it will become part of MDOP as well.  There are some interesting licensing challenges on usage of Kidaro for some of the use cases they tout, like contractor PCs and Employee personal notebooks that Microsoft has not figured out yet.


Speaking of MDOP components…

We had an opportunity to see features of the upcoming MAV 4.5 release that have not been publicly seen yet.    In the public Beta we have seen the "Dynamic Suite Composition", which allows two virtualized apps (typically a base app and a plug-in) to be sequenced separately but run in a single virtual environment.  Here, the MSI output choice is native to the sequencer, Sequencer Gui changes try to simplify the process by moving lesser used functions out of the wizards and into editor tabs.  Also, there are some new deployment options.  In addition to RTSP and RTSPS, and MSI, we will be able to use HTTP or HTTPS streaming.  Microsoft stated in one session that initial tests were showing better performance with HTTP than RTSP (which sounds like performance bugs in RTSP to me).  Also, there is a sequencer output option to a file in addition to a sft (you get both the sft and an msi).  This would be distributed through whatever method (file share, thumb drive, etc) and would fill the cache without streaming, as is the case with the current external msi utility.  RC0 will be out "this summer" and release by the end of Q3.


Day 3 Keynote

Debra Chrapaty, Corporate Vice President of Global Foundation Services spoke today.  Her group is responsible for the strategy and delivery of the major infrastructure services within Microsoft, including things like Microsoft Live and Online Services, MSN, Hotmail, and Microsoft Update.  They have over 200 internal services with a minimum of 1000 servers each.  This was an interesting talk (especially for this crowd) about how they do IT from a company with one of the largest infrastructures in the world.  Some of the highlights…



Over 200 internal services that use a minimum of 1000 servers.

Microsoft Live Search: 2 billion queries /month

MSN: 559 unique users, 10 billion+ page views/month

Windows Live:  1 billion+ Authentications/day

Hot Mail:  3.4 billion spam messages/day

Messenger:  8.2 billion text messages/day

Growth  - In the last 5 years GFS has grown

Increase in #Servers 15x (10,000/month added)

Egress Bandwidth  9x

Power 15x

# Data Centers 3x

And this is expected to increase over the next 5 years.


She stated (but asked not to be quoted on this) that they estimate that they are running at an average of 19% utilization today and that by increasing that to 40% by 2011 could save Microsoft $2Billion.


She also talked openly about using Microsoft Technology.  Two years ago they couldn't use Microsoft tools to manage all this and had to roll their own.  But today they are moving to System Center and Virtualization, and will be dog-fooding the pre-beta code a unheard-of scale.  Some examples:


SCOM 2007 pilot now:

1000 production servers

Starting with SP1  RC

Migrating 39,000 MOM 2005 agents next

Expect improvements in scalability


Migrating from home-grown tool to SCCM to collect asset info & patch compliance first


Moving some services to Hyper-V with goal of increasing those services to 30% utilization





There were plenty of vendors, and if I was really a System Center kind of guy they might have been more interesting.  But here are a few highlights from my tour.



This used to be Macrovision [EDIT: Not Marcomedia], the InstallShield guys, but was spun off.  News here is that in addition to generating MSIs they announced last year that they had an option to spit out files compatible with Citrix packages for AIE.  Now they are announcing the same capability for producing SoftGrid SFT files.  They claim it will be out "before SoftGrid 4.5 ships", which should be this summer.  Personally, I think that end-users get too interested in this sort of thing.  Ultimately, the customer has to customize the virtual application and you can't automate that away.  Still, it will be interesting to play with when we can get our hands on it.


SCCM Experts

They have a Self-Service Portal Solution to looks neat.  I asked them if they could handle self-service for SoftGrid apps (since Microsoft dropped the Softricity ZeroTouch) and it turns out that they can.  In essence, when approved they just assign the user in AD.



A European based company, they have primarily been in the Linux space but have now added Microsoft capabilities.  They provide "Search Data for IT".  Basically, this product scans things like configuration files, log files, and event manager events, and index them.  This allows an IT admin to do an efficient search against this data.  Unlike a "google" search, this search technology is "time based", meaning that it understands time relationships such as "at this time the configuration file looked like this".



Have a .net monitor product that monitors .net usage at the CLR level.  I like the concept except that it is monitoring for errors instead of performance and can't tell you what to do with the errors.  The CA/Wiley guys on the other side of the hall do this for .Net and Java as well.


Special Operations Software

Quite honestly, I couldn't figure these guys out.  They do something with Group Policy Expansion.


Lakeside Software

A familiar name around Citrix (and briForum) they are present here as their products fit into the landscape.  Nothing really new to report from them.



Another familiar name, also without a new product to show.  But an odd presence as they don't have anything that really ties into any part of System Center.  Still their booth seemed to have plenty of traffic.  When I asked them why they indicated that the Lockdown and Desktop products were of interest to the attendees.


Closing Thoughts

Microsoft has come a long way in the Management Space.  Ultimately, large enterprises using Microsoft Windows are almost forced to invest in System Center someday because otherwise they end up with a clutter of incompatible vendor products.  Not that System Center is complete or completely compatible.  I personally find SCCM and SCOM to be poorly implemented, in that they require way too many resources for the benefit provided.  This is something that can be addressed by Microsoft, but as long as customers continue to ask for more features over improved performance it will not happen.


In a way, it is interesting how Microsoft lumps all forms of virtualization under the "management" banner.  Is virtualization a product or is it just a different means to manage our stuff?  David Greshler had a good line in one session about how with virtualization we are "turning servers into data".  But we will need more than System Center to manage all that data.

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This used to be Macromedia, the InstallShield guys, but was spun off."

I think you meant Macrovision. Everybody makes that one these days :)

Thanks Tim for the great report from the summit. The day 3 keynote was interesting to read, it always interesting to see the nightmare environment Microsoft (and Google) have to deal with... 300+ new servers every day... :)

Thanks.  I corrected this for others.

Thanks for the very detailed report from MMS.

I found a page on the MS site that has all of the keynotes on streaming video, for thiose of us who didnt make it to MMS -


Barry Flanagan


Some Fun facts of MMS 2008

Registration by the numbers

22,500: The number of miles roundtrip 6 attendees flew to be at MMS 2008

1,309: The number of attendees who have previously attended an MMS

1,100: The number of attendees checked in within the first hour of registration opening

61: The number of countries represented

50: The number of US states represented

6: The number of US states with representation in the triple digits - CA, CO, IL, MA, TX, WA

Top countries other than the US with the highest representation:  Denmark, Canada, Sweden

Session Content

126 breakouts, 11 BOF sessions, 71 ILL lab sessions and 56 different self-paced lab topics

The total disk space of all the hands-on labs disk images was 532Gb

A total of 55,481 session bookings were received on CommNet

The Cross-platform keynote demo included 110Gb of VHD files: 1 physical Solaris box and 7 virtual machines

The Cross-platform keynote demo was repeated the same day at an Interop keynote, and the following day in Seattle

Fun Expo Facts

1,000 flying pigs were shipped to the event

Over 2,500 System Center luggage tags, boogie bots, laptop sleeves, mints, and yo-yo octopi were given out during expo hours

71 companies participated in the expo hall as either an exhibitor or a sponsor-exhibitor



Thanks for the great report. I'm surprised to see this lackluster choice of vendors to report on. Were there no TS / VDI vendors with new products leveraging Hyper-V? Was Citrix not there?

Citrix was there as an exhibitor and even had a session on XenDesktop and Provisioning Server led by Pete Downing.  It had a real "green" slant in the name which may have helped or hindered attendance.  Provision Networks (Quest) was there and had a lot of visibiity as well.  Desktone (Desktops as a service) were also there in a small capacity.  There was plenty of VDI buzz.  The biggest indicator of this?  A dedicated stand at the Microsoft booth illustrating XenDesktop integating with Hyper-V.  The RC that can do this will be announced later in the summer hopefully, but it was running at the MS booth.

Thanks, Patrick. I'm glad you mentioned Provision / Quest because we invited them to do a demo earlier last week and we were very impressed.

We thought their roadmap is a bit over the top, but from what we saw, there's no reason to doubt they'll deliver.

Which booth had the most activity?
LOL.  Those poor bastards at Citrix.  1 keynote mention to 3 references for Quest.  Claims like XenDesktops on Hyper-V when the product is neither really integrated nor shipping should backfire not only at Citrix but the chumps in Redmond.  TSK TSK TSK.

Too funny.  What Citrix was pushing as backfire on Provision Networks ended up backfiring in their faces.  I guess that's what you get for too much marketeering when all you've got is vaporware!


Nice to see Denmark
with a big representation.. if somebody is thinking "W00t the f.. is
Denmark... not that I'm judging the americans
:-)" then I can say: Lego, Skype, Maersk, Aqua, Vikings etc. :-) We are a
very little country with 5.4 Million people (1/4 of New York).

So it’s nice to see that we also are showing our flag in the
IT business.


I don't remember hearing anything about provision networks and VDI in any keynote at MMS. I could have missed it though. But I did see xendesktop demonstratated on stage by a MS Product Manager and a GM. I saw it inside teh Microsoft VECD booth too, as someone els ementioned.

A Windows Server Product Manager posted about it on the ms virtualization team blog on technet -

"Partners are also building on this infrastructure delivering end to end customer value. While I was speaking in the Interop panel, on the other side of the Las Vegas strip at Microsoft Management Summit, Citrix demoed a version of XenDesktop (their VDI product) running on Hyper-V and SCVMM. I am very excited that, with our Citrix partnership, we can offer a leading end-to-end VDI solution based on the Microsoft Hyper-V infrastructure, with common management for physical and virtual environments alike through the System Center line of products."


I searched that entire blog, never found a word about provision or quest. I guess what citrix is doing is good enough for ms. Maybe they are not even aware of what those provision guys are doing?


I'm not sure what Citrix was trying to prove? That they're still Microsoft's biggest ***? But we all know that already!

What I did find though are the following:

- “Microsoft has a comprehensive approach to virtualization—from desktop to datacenter—delivering solutions that address virtualization at the hardware, application and management levels,” said Dai Vu, director of Virtualization Products and Solutions Marketing at Microsoft. “We are pleased that Provision Networks has extended its VDI solution framework to support Microsoft Hyper-V. This combination provides complete lifecycle management desktop delivery that improves management and saves resources.”




Doesnt citrix have a source code agreement and joint development agreement for Hyper V with microsoft (through xensource)? They are writing the linux support and have direct access to the code.

They also have a source code agreement with Windows server.  Does provision have any source code agreements, or quest? I have no idea. 


What a bunch of immature squabblers!  These guys from Provision seem very defensive as it seems that they are intimidated by Citrix, and well they should be.  As far as I know, Hyper-V isn't even GA, so what are you trying to prove?  There will be several VDI products in support of Hyper-V when it's released, for example, Ericom has support listed on their site.  I'm sure that Leostream and others will follow shortly as well.  Play nice kids...

Not sure who's immature!  From reading the string, it looked like Citrix started the thread.  They certainly have been on the defensive when it comes to VDI.
Eric whom?
I thought leostream is out of business?  Last time we checked about 4 months we couldn't get support for days for a pilot and we gave up.
That would be Ericom Software, they just made an announcement today about supporting Oracle VM.  Check the Oracle VM site, under "What's New".

SHeesh, next time I'll just title an article "Lets bash everyone" and leave it blank!

My bad on leaving out Citrix and Quest on the list.  They were both very present.  Quest, actually had two booths, as both Quest and Quest/Provision Networks.  This gave them (I think) more floor space than anyone but Microsoft.  The reason for their exclusion from my post was only that they both had big announcements when I last saw them in January so they held little interest to me as a source of anything new.  Of course had I been smart I would have paid more attention to Citrix, if for no reason other to understand what is no longer NDA.

Huh? I was at MMS I don't remember Quest being mentioned with VDI or TS? Did I miss something?
Quest who?  I only know of Provisiong "We Wish We Where Citrix" Networks.  Even their green shirts didn't make a splash.  Too bad Quest does not have a hyper visor... then maybe they can talk trash.
Quest has as much of a hypervisor as Citrix does.
Thanks for the great feedback - your highlights on SoftGrid (MAV) streaming possibilities via HTTPS & SCCM Expert's 'ZeroTouch'-type product were worth the read. I've forwarded your blog points to my customer.  Thanks again for taking the time to give this kind of detail.
If they really wanted one, they could get one right out of the Xen open source community without blowing $500m on "waste management."

A guy from SOS wrote me to help me "figure out" what they do.  I guess I misread my notes and I guess they do "Group Policy Extension" and not "Expansion" as I wrote.  Duh, that makes sense.  Not being a policy wonk, I'm still not sure I understand what they do, but maybe if I post his message others might understand.

What we do is Group Policy Extension, or as it is most often named, client side extension (CSE).  We add system management functionality to Microsoft Group Policy.  Our colleges Desktop Standard did the same thing but were more focused on settings.  The DS product is what you now have as Preferences in Windows 2008. ...

... Please have a look at what Jeffry Snower wrote on the PowerShell team blog after a demo.

So looking at this post I think I get it.  I'm just not enough of a wonk to know if it is a good option or not.


Check out this vendor who has claimed support for Citrix, TS, VDI.... -

From what I read, they seems to be able to do all these and more.