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.