SMS Feature Packs Getting Close

LAS VEGAS -- A few details dribbled out this week at the Microsoft Management Summit about two feature packs Microsoft will ship for Systems Management Server 2003.

For several years, Microsoft has promised it would deliver a Device Management Feature Pack a few months after delivery of SMS 2003, which shipped in November. The feature pack is designed to extend SMS to mobile devices and laptops. Smartphone support was announced this week, as well. That feature pack went into beta testing on Tuesday.

The other management pack that is coming for SMS 2003 is the Operating System Deployment Feature Pack. Billed as a bare-metal deployment feature pack, Microsoft officials say the feature pack will be useful for creating and deploying Windows operating system images and for upgrading systems in place with rich status reporting.

"SMS is traditionally fundamentally about upgrading operating systems rather than installing new operating systems. You've been able to craft certain behaviors … but it's never been smooth," says David Hamilton, a director in Microsoft's Enterprise Management Division.

The OS deployment feature pack will support a new imaging format being developed by Microsoft called the Windows Imaging Format. Microsoft also plans to support common partner imaging formats, such as Symantec Ghost. Hamilton says Microsoft hasn't decided which partner imaging formats to support and may not deliver third-party support when the feature pack initially ships.

The OS deployment feature pack is "very close" to entering beta, Hamilton says. Both feature packs are supposed to ship later this year.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.