Microsoft is steadily building a family of System Center systems management software aimed at both midsize and enterprise customers, the company said Wednesday.In terms of Microsoft\u2019s management tools, 2006 is proving to be a "watershed year," said Andy Lees, corporate vice president of\u00a0server and tools marketing at Microsoft during a keynote address at the Worldwide Partner Conference in Boston, which runs through Thursday.Lees formally introduced the latest addition to the family, System Center Essentials 2007, currently in beta testing and due to ship either late this year or early in 2007. Focused on midmarket customers, Essentials is a Windows Server systems management product.Microsoft will encourage its partners to sell Essentials to customers and then use System Center Operations Manager 2007 to provide remote software deployment, update management, monitoring and troubleshooting over a secure Internet connection, Lees said.When an IT problem is identified, partners can use the System Center software to access information, including a summary of the problem and its possible causes and resolution, Lees said. Using System Center Operations Manager 2007, partners can get a dashboard view of all the customers they\u2019re remotely supporting. They can then drill down on a user\u2019s flagged problem to see which individual computer has the issue and the relation of that device to the customer\u2019s overall IT setup.Partners can also use System Center to generate reports that they can send to customers each month demonstrating the actions they\u2019ve taken to support their computers.Microsoft intends to fully integrate its new Forefront security software with System Center so that the systems management offerings can also flag security alerts, Lees said.System Center Operations Manager 2007 was previously known as Microsoft Operations Manager, also fondly referred to as MOM. Microsoft also plans to rebrand its Systems Management Server\u00a0as System Center Configuration Manager 2007.In May, Microsoft unveiled its System Center Virtual Machine Manager, previously known as "Carmine." The software, currently in beta, enables systems administrator to manage virtual machines on a network and quickly get new virtual machines up and running.Other members of the family include System Center Data Protection Manager, focused on optimizing disk-based backup and recovery.System Center stacks up against rival systems management products from CA, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.Microsoft\u2019s server and tools business is a roll, Lees said, reporting US$2.8 billion in revenue in Microsoft\u2019s most recent quarter, 16 percent up on the third quarter of fiscal 2006. It was the division\u2019s 15th consecutive quarter of double-digit growth, with the vendor on track to repeat that performance in its fourth quarter when results are released July 20.-China Martens, IDG News Service (Boston Bureau)This article is posted on our Microsoft Informer page.\u00a0For more news on the Redmond, Wash.-based powerhouse, keep checking in.Check out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.