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Q&A: Bob Muglia on Microsoft's Dynamic Systems Initiative, autonomic computing

He believes companies will adopt DSI once they see value in the effort

By Matt Hamblen and Carol Sliwa
October 8, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Bob Muglia, senior vice president for enterprise management and storage at Microsoft Corp. helped define Microsoft's Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI) and Systems Definition Model and their place in the emerging market for autonomic computing products. He spoke with Computerworld's Matt Hamblen and Carol Sliwa on Oct. 6 about Microsoft's plans and how they differ from initiatives launched by other companies, such as IBM.
What makes Microsoft's DSI better than autonomic products from other vendors? The key distinction ... is that we are looking at what we can do to the developer tools to make it easy to build applications that later on can be managed through the operations part of the life cycle. When IBM talks about autonomic computing, they often talk about the resource-balancing nature of it, and that is something we are also focused on. However, I am less concerned about the use of computer resources in a data center and more concerned about the people cost of developing, deploying and operating applications. So by capturing management knowledge at the development stage of an application as we do, there's a lot to be done to lower the cost of operating these systems.
Is DSI going to be synonymous with Web services management? Is it more? It's not synonymous with Web services management. It's very helpful for Web services management, and yes, it is more than Web services management. The whole idea of DSI is, Can you create a model for what a system looks like? For example, Active Directory is not Web services-based, but I sure would like it to be managed through DSI. I sure would like a System Definition Model to describe the Active Directory environment. Modeling tools would be helpful for such pre-existing applications as Active Directory, SQL Server or Exchange, because Exchange is a multitiered application split across many machines. DSI applies more to the overall Windows environment, with Web services a piece of it.
When they hear of autonomic tools such as on-demand and now DSI, enterprise network managers sometimes say, "Why weren't the vendors doing that 15 years ago?" They are asking, "Why didn't you do this 10 years ago?" Before DSI, all the management vendors were providing products late, with poor and fair degrees of success. It's not because they did a bad job, but they were trying to manage things not fundamentally manageable. The first thing the Active Directory team learned when they built their management pack was AD wasn't manageable.
What are you going to do to get customers interested in the DSI concept in this economy? People

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