Microsoft Testing SaaS-based PC Management Tool

Microsoft is preparing to beta test System Center Online Desktop Manager, a cloud-based IT management tool for PCs and laptop computers. But will the new tool serve corporate IT employees or external managed service providers (MSPs)? Here are some answers.

I posed questions to Microsoft over email. Robert Reynolds, director of product planning for System Center, offered these replies...

MSPmentor: What Is System Center Online Desktop Manager and who is it designed for?

Reynolds: System Center Online Desktop Manager is designed for customers who want an integrated PC management and protection solution without the overhead associated with installing and maintaining management infrastructure on-premise. It’s a cloud-based IT management solution which will be offered as a subscription-based service. Through the use of a single web-based console, Online Desktop Manager will deliver the capability to secure, update, monitor, configure, troubleshoot and collect inventory from managed desktop and laptop computers.

MSPmentor: Is Microsoft System Center Online Desktop Manager available now or in beta test?
Reynolds: The public beta of System Center Online Desktop Manager is scheduled for Q4 this year, with the product release planned for the first half of 2010.

MSPmentor: How will it be priced?
Reynolds
: subscription-based service. Final product pricing has not yet been determined, but will be market competitive.

MSPmentor: Will VARs and MSPs (managed service providers) use System Center Online Desktop Manager to remotely manage customer networks, or is it mainly designed for corporate IT departments to use on their own?
Reynolds: System Center Online Desktop Manager is mainly designed for IT departments to use on their own and  it also supports partners acting as administrators within the customer’s environment.

MSPmentor: Where will System Center Online Desktop Manager head next?
Reynolds: It’s a reflection of Microsoft’s software + services strategy, as well as a reflection of the expanding portfolio of Microsoft’s $1 billion systems management business. We’ll continue to expand the desktop management capabilities of the product. Microsoft offers an end-to-end client, device and server management solution that lowers IT complexity and the costs of delivery.

Key Observations

Clearly, Microsoft is mainly targeting corporate IT with System Center Online Desktop Manager. But Reynolds' statement about "partners acting as administrators within the customer's environment" is an important one.

On Aug. 10, I blogged about the blurring line between corporate IT and MSP management tools. MSPs that want to further blur the line and work closely with corporate IT may want to get up to speed on System Center Online Desktop Manager.

I'm not endorsing the Microsoft tool. But I am convinced that MSPs and corporate IT managers will need to walk forward together in order to further automate small, midsize and large organizations.

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TAGS: RMM
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