This past week Jeff James, Sean Deuby and I attended a Private Cloud Workshop that Microsoft held at their Redmond campus. Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President Server & Tool Business kicked off this two day event by sharing some interesting statics about the use of System Center in the enterprise as well as stating that System Center has significant advantages in managing the private cloud over all of the competing products. A couple of standout statistics that he mentioned were that Microsoft’s has made a billion dollar investment in the area of systems management and they are also in a unique position to leverage their own experiences in running Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure. This global infrastructure provides support for Hotmail, Windows Azure,, Windows InTune and more. Brad also mentioned that 76% of all organizations have Windows Server installed and that System Center was the most popular management suite worldwide and it is used by 50% of all organization with more than 500 PCs.
There’s no doubt that the release of System Center 2012 marks some big changes for the product. First, the individual System Center Components can no longer be purchased separately. Instead, there will be just two System Center 2012 editions: System Center 2012 Standard Edition and System Center 2012 Datacenter edition. This makes a lot of sense when you remember that the different members of the family all provide different bits of functionality but they are all needed to manage a cloud environment. For more information on the new System Center products and licensing you can refer to Jeff James's article, "System Center 2012 RC Ships, Showcases Revamped Licensing and Branding Strategy."
Regarding the private cloud there’s no doubt that the biggest changes are found in the Virtual Machine Manager 2012 (VMM) product. Jeff, Sean and I were discussing the fact that these changes are so sweeping the name Virtual Machine Manager is now something of a misnomer. The product might easily be better named Private Cloud Manager. VMM 2012 still does the same types of VM management as VMM 2008 -- you can create VMs as well as start and stop them and initiate Live Migrations. However, with VMM 2012 VM management just lays the groundwork that’s required to build the private cloud. VMM 2012 adds a cloud management abstraction layer over your virtualized resources.
To build the private cloud, VMM 2012 introduces the concepts of fabrics and services. Fabrics represent your organization’s virtual resources such as VMs, storage and virtual networks. Services are collections of VMs and other virtual resource that work together. For instance, a VMM 2012 service might consist of a VM that acts as a web frontend, a second VM that provides business tier logic, a third VM that provides backend database services and a virtual network that ties these VMs together and allows access to your organization’s client network. VMM 2012 allows you to deploy this service to a private cloud and then assign users to the private cloud. When you manage the service you are managing all of the VMs at one time. You can also deploy the service and all of its virtual assets in a single operation. As you can see, the service concept is a step above plain vanilla virtualization. In addition, VMM 2012 will also include Dynamic Optimization and Power Optimization. Dynamic Optimization enables VMs to be automatically live migrated between different host in response to system workload while Power Optimization enables you to automatically live migrate workloads and then power off virtualization hosts during periods of low utilization.
Other notable changes are the inclusion of the new Service Manager application which enables you to manage service requests and Orchestrator (formerly Opalis) which enables you to automate your run books and other IT operations using a drag-and-drop interface. In addition, Microsoft’s recent acquisition of AVICode, the .NET debugging application, has been integrated into Operations Manager. The sleeper product in this release might Data Protection Manager (DPM). While it might take some time to adopt the new private cloud and automated management technologies provided by the other members of the System Center 2012 family DPM can handle all of the backup and and disaster recovery scenarios right of of the box for your current environment. DPM is also fully integrated with Exchange and SQL Server.
System Center 2012 has definitely evolved to embrace and empower the private cloud.
For more information about Microsoft’s System Center 2012’s private cloud initiative, you can can check out STB News Byes.
In addition, for a more personal and in-depth discussion about the private cloud workshop and System Center 2012 you can join Jeff, Sean and I in the latest edition of Windows IT Pro Insider.
Related: Microsoft and the Private Cloud