In my overview of Microsoft’s core System Center line, I introduced the high-level features available in each product. You’ve probably heard about those core products, but did you know that Microsoft also makes available three products under the System Center moniker? Capacity Planner 2007, Mobile Device Manager 2008, and Service Manager help to round out the IT service management goals that are the intended targets of the System Center product line.

System Center Capacity Planner 2007. Are you preparing to deploy Exchange Server 2007, SharePoint, or System Center Operations Manager? If so, then downloading and using Capacity Planner should be at the top of your to-do list. Capacity Planner helps you to figure out complex infrastructure needs before you deploy these services, helping to make sure that you build new services on an infrastructure that can support the intended load. All you need to do is provide Capacity Planner with details regarding your goals, and Capacity Planner will produce a report indicating the number of necessary servers, the projected utilization for each server, projected network utilization, impact if you add additional features, such as clustering on an Exchange server, and much more. You can model just about any aspect of the architecture to analyze the possible impact without having to modify a production environment and risk its stability. Even better, Capacity Planner is a free download from Microsoft. No licensing costs! There are additional product modeling add-ins available for download from Microsoft, too. Capacity Planner also integrates with Video to help you diagram that new infrastructure.

System Center Mobile Device Manager 2008. With mobile device use exploding, Mobile Device Manager 2008 provides users of Windows Mobile 6.1 devices with secure access to the network while at the same time providing IT with the ability to centrally manage mobile devices. For example, do you want to disable the cameras on all corporate-owned Windows Mobile 6.1 devices? Do you want to make sure that files on mobile devices are encrypted? When a user loses his mobile device, do you want the ability to remotely wipe potentially sensitive corporate information from the unit? These are just some of the tasks that can be accomplished with Mobile Device Manager. Perhaps the biggest drawback for the product is its support only for Windows Mobile 6.1 devices. With other mobile devices, such as the iPhone and the Palm Pre gaining wide acceptance, Microsoft may want to consider expanding support to these platforms at some point in the future. Mobile Device Manager is not free and requires both server and device client access licenses. Mobile Device Manager can be integrated with Configuration Manager to provide a more seamless administrative experience, too.

System Center Service Manager. This is one of the upcoming System Center products that I am most excited about, and I expect that it will eventually become a member of the System Center “core” product line with deep integration into other System Center products, particularly Configuration Manager. Service Manager completes the ITIL/MOF focus of the System Center product line by providing a request and change management framework. Based on the idea of self-service, Service Manager provides users with their window into IT by supporting change, incident, and asset management functions. The Service Center Beta 1 provides capability for administrators as well, such as creating user accounts. I plan to spend a lot of quality time with Service Manager.

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