Dave Sobel was all over System Center Essentials at last years TechEd and frankly, I dismissed it way back then as another mee-too Microsoft entry in a hot market with an offshoot of SMS/MOM crippled down to the SMB without any of the features that make SMS/MOM somewhat of a success in the enterprise. We use all of these tools to manage our Own Web Now network so I’m trying my hardest to use the words that don’t inspire confidence in these things being actual solutions to the problem.
This year I tried my hardest to attend the many System Center presentations to see the progress (still on MOM here) and what I saw justified my previous position. Don’t get me wrong, they have improved to the point at which they might kill Level Platforms, the integration of System Center Essentials into the upcoming Microsoft servers (if/what/when) might give it a little bit of attention but what I saw in these tools had clear prints of the many failed Microsoft enterprise solutions when cripled/pushed down into SMB. I watched this presentation in which the presenter tried his hardest to explain how System Center Service Manager would help the company mange its support requests. While that tool might be great for the helpdesk to fill out on behalf of the user and get it right half the time, throwing a 50 page questionaiire clearly designed by a retarded CRM developer (you know the kind, that throw every available control onto a 6 mile long page) at a user will just result in people ignoring it.
Now there is some press about SCE being used to deliver managed solutions, but the story is still the same – license System Center Operation Manager in your network and then make everyone else buy into SCE. Riiiight.
If you ask me, and we’ll pretend you did since you’re reading my blog, Microsoft lost the SMB managed space by mismanaging it for close to a decade. One half-baked idea after another, one patching nightmare after another, making product support costs shoot through the roof where you only seem to buy the application framework but are left on your own to put together the pieces and make them work togheter… those kinds of moves have made loyal Microsoft customers either make it work themselves (middleware) or go with a third party solution.
And now, moreso than at any point over the last 10 years, people are using competitive solutions that actually solve the problems. Those third party solutions for security, spam, VoIP, network management, email, etc are not going to be managed by SCE and will likely keep the third party tools in dominance. Absolutely nobody I spoke to (outside Microsoft) at TechEd was using the Edge Role on their Exchange 2007 network. Even the most devout of MVP’s had Blackberries. And don’t get me started on the circumcised Forefront (bad TechEd 2006 joke). People are buying Asterisk VoIP, they are adding Macs, they are buying Vmware, they are buying third party appliances… and Microsoft is living in a realm in which only their solutions exist and only their solutions need to be managed.