The SMS team just shipped their Inventory Tool for Dell Updates, a free download for SMS 2003 . This is another one of those descriptive-and-boring product names, but it actually hides something that’s pretty damn cool, and will ease the lives of many a systems administrator.

Here’s how it works: let’s say that you’re already using SMS, and you’ve got lots of Dell computers – a common scenario. But you’re also really fed up with having to keep every one of those computers up to date with the latest BIOS, firmware, and driver updates from Dell. Wouldn’t it be nice if SMS could scan them all to see what updates each computer required, download the latest Dell update catalog on a predetermined schedule, and then push out the right updates to the right computers? Well, now it can! Dell is calling this “One Click” management (which shows that they still know how to come up with good names), and you can also download it from their Microsoft Systems Management page. See Eileen Brown’s post for more details.

And there’s an important factor here that a lot of people seem to have missed. And no, I’m not talking about the geeky sysadmin coolness of having a single solution to manage updates to hardware, OS, and applications. I’m talking about how two radically different corporate cultures sat down together, came up with a solution that benefits all of our customers, and got it out the door in such a short time. When you think about everything that has to happen for Dell patches to go through Microsoft QA, be digitally signed, packaged up for SMS, and then get distributed out from a central site — that’s the kind of thing that touches a lot of internal teams on both sides. Kudos to everyone involved for making it happen!