Dell and Microsoft announce partnership on patching


16 Nov 2004

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PARIS: Microsoft and Dell have announced a broad-ranging partnership which aims to address one of the bugbears of IT managers: issuing software patches and updates to servers. The companies’ collaboration will allow system updates with a single mouse click.

Dell’s OpenManage systems management software will be integrated with Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003, bringing together the tools required to update system software, operating systems and applications.

The new tool offers a single, unified interface which integrates Dell management software and Microsoft software. With it, all Dell servers can be updated at the hardware, operating system and application level with one mouse click. Previously, it took different tools to perform these tasks, making it a time consuming process, said Kevin Rollins, president and CEO of Dell.

He also claimed that rival systems do not currently allow this one-click update feature. “Our competitors’ servers all require multiple tools to update their servers,” he said. However, he acknowledged the commercial reality that most customers typically have more than one brand of server as part of their IT infrastructure. “System management has been the last area of proprietary technology on x86 servers and the end is in sight,” he said. “We envision when the same tool will update all servers in the enterprise. When that happens, then we’ll know we’ve done our job.”

Rollins added: “This strategy begins and ends with the customer. They cannot afford added complexity.” He claimed that managing security updates and patches was “customers’ number one pain point” and he cited research commissioned by Dell which showed that 92pc of customers would use a single tool to handle patches.

In a video presentation, Microsoft president and CEO Steve Ballmer called the plan “an effort to offer real and better solutions to customers”. He added that yesterday’s announcement was just the beginning – the companies’ expanded partnership would work on making further developments in systems management. “Enterprise customers want comprehensive solutions that span management of both hardware and software and drive down cost and complexity.”

The companies did not disclose how much financial resources that each is bringing to the partnership, which covers technical development as well as joint sales and marketing initiatives.

The unified Dell-Microsoft tool, called SMS 2003 Inventory Tool for Dell Updates, will be available from January and will come free with the purchase of SMS 2003 by Dell customers or through a free download from Microsoft’s website.

By Gordon Smith