MARKHAM, Ont. — A Canadian broadcaster and film company said Microsoft Operations Manager 2005 has helped it locally manage its vast worldwide network with as little resources possible.

Toronto-based Alliance Atlantis Corp.,

which is also located in Los Angeles, London, England, Dublin, Madrid and Sydney, Australia, said MOM 2005 will allow its infrastructure to grow while keeping the same number of employees.

“”We are confident that we are going to be able to monitor locations from Toronto with existing people and be able to continue to add servers without adding people,”” said Jeff Kent, senior vice-president of IT at Alliance Atlantis, which started looking at MOM four years ago.

“”We liked a lot of things saw in MOM 2000 and we knew it was going in the right direction. It was capable of managing our environment.””

Kent said the older version needed better reporting capabilities and it didn’t have the ability to do Windows maintenance. Alliance Atlantis decided to go with the product after seeing that these problems were slated for correction in the MOM 2005 release. The firm was also impressed with how Microsoft uses a single point of contact to manage an organization’s entire IT department.

Kent was one of several participants at a Microsoft roundtable Thursday, which set out to discuss its ongoing Dynamic Systems Initiative and product-related releases MOM 2005 and Microsoft Virtual Server 2005. Panelists also included partners Dell Canada, LegendCorp and PlateSpin.

DSI, which launched in May 2003 , aims to simplify and automate how organizations design, deploy and operate distributed systems by increasing operational efficiency and aiding customers with maximizing their IT environments.

Derick Wong, senior product manager of security and management at Microsoft Canada, gave a scenario of what DSI will eventually look like using the example of a new employee who arrives for his or her first day of work and can’t access the network.

“”The problem is not the tools. The problem is all processes around it. We’re not here yet, but wouldn’t it be really cool if an HR person enters new employee’s profile and that PeopleSoft or HR system talks to the Windows Server System?”” asked Wong.

To get to that point, he added, Microsoft needs partners like Dell Computer Corp., Avanade Canada Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co.

“”It’s the partner solution that’s going to make this whole thing extensible,”” said Wong. “”Make it extensible with partner solutions and partner plug-ins so that we can manage more of the network or plug into more of the network.””

John Mangold, national manager of Canada advanced systems group at Dell Canada, said increased efficiency in software means more hardware sales.

“”The computing world is a trillion dollar business,”” said Mangold. “”There needs to be a solution that lets the customer be more efficient in his business. The more we do that, the more he will look to us to do business.””

Microsoft partner LegendCorp said customers have responded well to the release because of the direct value proposition associated with it.

“”At the end of the day (a solution) has got to save me time and money. It’s not something that takes us six months to implement,”” said LegendCorp’s Andy Papadopoulos. “”There’s automation that can be had. That’s what MOM brings to the table.””

MOM 2005 helps improves manageability of Windows Server System environment by providing users with event management, monitoring and alerting, reporting and trend analysis, and system and application-specific knowledge and tasks. Benefits to users include ability to identify IT health issues before they become problems, improved efficiency of IT operations, and reporting capabilities for sharing service level and performance information.

Kent cited several other benefits that Alliance Atlantis has experienced since implementing the software before its official release late last month. These include the ability to add on non-Microsoft products such as Veritas software and Dell hardware.

“”The majority of our hardware is Dell-based,”” said Kent. “”All that expandability is there for us and we plan on using that.””

MOM 2005 also allows Alliance Atlantis’ developers, who do a lot of their development work in .Net, to write MOM events into their code.

“”(MOM 2005) goes a long way towards meeting corporate goals and providing very good service for the users,”” he said. “”It really comes down to being proactive and finding out everything before users themselves.””

Microsoft also talked about its most recent product release, Virtual Server 2005, which is also falls under DSI. Part of the Windows Server System, VS aims to reduce hardware costs and to increase operational efficiency by automating software test and development environments, rehosting legacy apps, and consolidating production server workloads.

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