Microsoft updates System Center for the private cloud

Microsoft updates System Center for the private cloud

Summary: New 2012 versions of Virtual Machine Manager, Operations Manager and Configuration Manager are designed to help enterprises move to private clouds and to provide more scope for end users

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Microsoft has unveiled its 2012 wave of System Center updates and new releases, with an increased focus on the transition of infrastructure to private clouds and on delivering self-service IT for end users.

At the Microsoft Management Summit in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Brad Anderson, head of Microsoft's management and security division, presented new versions of core System Center products Virtual Machine Manager and Operations Manager.

System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012

Microsoft has unveiled its 2012 wave of System Center updates, including Virtual Machine Manager 2012 (above).

Describing the tools as "handling one of the key challenges, the complexity in the datacentre", Anderson said that Microsoft was doing "more than just monitoring the compute in a cloud, it's working with networking, storage and physical hardware".

Virtual Machine Manager 2012 gives IT professionals tools to compose and deliver service architectures from a library of virtual machines and virtualised applications, while Operations Manager 2012 will help deliver agreed service levels.

"We will give you the tools to help make the decision and then deliver the [private cloud] fabric," Anderson said in his keynote speech.

We will give you the tools to help make the decision and then deliver the [cloud] fabric.

– Brad Anderson, Microsoft

Operations Manager 2012 will also add support for application monitoring technology from Microsoft's recent acquisition, AVIcode. Providing a link between developer and operations, AVIcode integration will allow operations teams to provide root-cause analysis of application issues. Anderson noted that this allows Microsoft to "monitor your fabric health, even if it's not Hyper-V, [even] if it's VMware".

In addition, Anderson announced two new members of the System Center family of tools. Concero is a web-based self-service portal that helps business users request and deploy new resources in private clouds, while Advisor provides cloud-hosted best practice advice for tools and services.

Anderson pitched the System Center 2012 releases as "embracing the cloud as a compute model on your terms". He also addressed IT professional concerns by noting that "System Center makes it simple and easy for service consumers to use capacity so they don't go around you to public cloud providers".

Configuration Manager

In a separate keynote speech on Wednesday, Anderson followed up by announcing updates to the package's desktop management tool, System Center Configuration Manager. In a nod to the IT 'consumerisation' trend, Anderson noted that the release was "all about self-service, all about the applications, about making users productive and agile".

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Configuration Manager 2012 will add support for mobile devices, including those based on iOS and Android, using the device profile tools built into Exchange Active Sync. Policy-based management features will allow administrators to control how software is deployed to non-managed devices, using rules to manage deployment via thin client and virtual desktops.

With the update, Microsoft has built support into Configuration Manager for Citrix's virtual desktop tools as well as its own Remote Desktop Services.

Anderson also presented what he called "a single infrastructure for desktop management and security", which integrates Forefront Endpoint Protection with Configuration Manager. The move promises to make it easier for companies to deploy the two technologies, by making Forefront Endpoint Protection part of the core enterprise agreement. This will make it available to most business as part of their standard licensing agreement.

Administrators will be able to set a security compliance baseline with automatic remediation and automatic deployment of definition updates, which Anderson described as "the right settings for the right devices".

Beta versions of Virtual Machine Manager 2012 and Configuration Manager 2012 are available now, with final release due in the second half of 2011.


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Topic: Cloud

Simon Bisson

About Simon Bisson

Simon Bisson is a freelance technology journalist. He specialises in architecture and enterprise IT. He ran one of the UK's first national ISPs and moved to writing around the time of the collapse of the first dotcom boom. He still writes code.

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