Microsoft Systems Management Server is a tool to help enterprise administrators look after Win9x, WinNT, and Win2000 workstations. Normally, client software is installed or updated on a workstation via a logon script when someone logs on. The SMS client can then collect hardware and software inventory, run packages (software packaged with WISE Installer or SMS Installer) to install software, provide a remote control service, among other things. SMS is administered through the Microsoft management console, or MMC, which simplifies some tasks but makes others extremely difficult, as compared with the SMS 1.2 management interface.

SMS is useful for distributing software to client machines. Your helpdesk doesn't have to walk all the way down to a users machine anymore. Now they can just sit at their desks and send a package to that machine. Helpdesk people don't have to leave their desks to trouble shoot a user's problem either, they can remote control the machine and help the user out that way. These are highly nifty things that help tickets get closed faster, which impressed the phbs.

The bad thing about SMS is that it's really hard to get working right. The site I work at has had SMS 2 SP2 working on and off for over a year, and before that they had SMS 1.2, which was also prone to failure. SMS uses SQL Server to store its information in, and getting SMS and SQL server to work together can be remarkably difficult. I haven't had the pleasure of trouble shooting this duo myself, but I've heard the rants, the cursing, and the support calls.

This product is similar to Cult of the Dead Cow's Back Orifice. I suspect that if SMS client machines weren't properly firewalled, they could be a big security risk.

A big fan of MS products (don't down-vote me because of that, I have my personal reasons) I have always used MS products without investigating the alternatives.

For a number of years I was using MS SMS for remote management of user PCs, but soon found it to be too frustratingly slow, and buggy as hell.

I soon discovered that I was physically travelling to remote locations rather than using SMS to manage machines.

In recent times I have discovered Netopia's Timbuktu. This allows you to perform the remote-control functions that MS SMS does, but is extremely quick at refreshing the screen. So much so that at one stage we had a 128Kbit link to a city 300 miles North of me and then a 64Kbit link from there South to a city 500 miles South of where I am now (there was no direct link from here to there at that stage) so the link travelled 1100 miles (600 of it unnecessarily). The update speed was the same as sitting in front of the console.

So impressed was I, that the cludgy and expensive MS SMS was dumped in favour of this product.

You may have your favourites, but it is worth looking into alternatives as well if they do the job better.

SMS = Systems Management Server

SMS is a Microsoft product that is designed to give you control over your desktops in an enterprise environment. You can collect lists of the software that is installed, programs that are running, and the hardware configuration of any given pc in your network. You may also limit the use of specified programs (eg; solitaire) to only run at certain times of the day or not at all.
Possibly one of the more used functions would be remote control. This allows you to take control of a users desktop and scare the bejeezus out of em (sometimes it helps you to resolve an issue as well). Another funky SMS feature is that it allows you to remotely install software, no more going to each users desk with a bundle of cds!

Microsoft┬« Systems Management Server 2.0 includes detailed hardware inventory, software inventory and metering, software distribution and installation, and remote troubleshooting tools. These integrated features make Systems Management Server 2.0 the most scalable way to reduce the cost of change and configuration management for Windows┬« based desktop and server systems. Systems Management Server 2.0 is built on industry-standard management protocols, ensuring compatibility with complementary management tools. Systems Management Server 2.0 is tightly integrated with Microsoft SQL Server™ and Microsoft Windows NT┬« Server operating system, making it easier than ever to install, configure, and maintain Systems Management Server in any size network.

You may find out more information at Microsoft Systems Management Server or online at

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