PDC: Next-gen command line tool slated for 2006 general release

Los Angeles (CA) - In a keynote speech this morning at Microsoft Professional Developers’ Conference, the company’s senior vice president, Bob Muglia, brought to an end at least some of the speculation about the future of Monad, the company’s next-generation command line tool. A final non-beta edition will be made available, along with the release of the new Windows Server 2003 Compute Cluster Solution (CCS), during the first half of 2006.

During his keynote address, Muglia clearly appeared to announce that Monad would be released as part of CCS, rather than simply in conjunction with it, or in the same timeframe. But later Thursday afternoon, a Microsoft spokesperson told Tom’s Hardware Guide that Muglia did not mean to imply that CCS would be a "release vehicle" for Monad, despite language and graphics that put them together in the same category.

Acknowledging Monad as Windows’ "next-generation scripting language," Muglia told the audience, "Monad has a lot of great capabilities, the most important of which is that it’s built on the .NET Framework...It’s really the first mainstream command language that’s focused on allowing objects, with a full set of services that an object possesses : events and methods, and pass those things between different commands."

As Monad’s lead developer Jeffrey Snover demonstrated here on Tuesday, software developers can create objects that enable their existing applications to be addressable from the Monad command line, and to present data that can be gleaned either from XML classes or through the Component Object Model. Showing only what may have been a single hastily-inserted PowerPoint slide, Muglia described to developers that they can add extra management objects into their applications to be accessed through Monad cmdlets ("command-lets"), to accomplish what he could only describe at the time as "command-line things."

Snover’s more thorough demonstration from Tuesday showed how entire databases can be mounted into Monad command lines as though they were logical devices, and their associated tuples and tables addressable as files using familiar "DIR" and "CAT" commands.

Making the adoption timeframe official, and perhaps even shortening it from the five-year timespan Muglia had alluded to earlier this year, he told the gathered audience, "We are going to undergo a process over the next few years to get a full set of Monad commands across all of Windows Server, and across all of our server applications." The formal process for building management tools from this point forward, he said, will involve the creation of .NET objects which can be addressed and managed either through Microsoft Management Console (MMC) or through Monad, equally and evenly. "So one set of objects can provide a very consistent set of capabilities for graphical administration, as well as for command line."

"We’re also going to take a gigantic leap forward in terms of the manageability of Windows Server," Muglia added. "I am explicitly asking for your help. This is one where I really want your help in terms of building these management objects, these cmdlets, to make more server-based applications administrable."

In a demonstration of Monad on Tuesday, a query is used to track down and stop a suspicious process.

The operating system which Muglia appeared to associate Monad with, Compute Cluster Solution, was also demonstrated for the first time today. This edition is geared exclusively for multiple-node clusters where compute-intensive tasks are distributed among multiple CPUs, with security and failover functions built-in. The result is an operating system for practically homemade supercomputer clusters. A demonstration of Compute Cluster Solution in action included an Excel spreadsheet which was running a sophisticated Monte Carlo simulation of options trading. During the demo, Muglia intentionally unplugged one of four servers in a cluster, in order to demonstrate the system’s failover capability in action.

Stay in touch with Tom’s Hardware Guide for more news from PDC 2005 as it happens.

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