Whether your organization leverages public cloud, private cloud or even a hybrid environment that includes on-premise physical equipment, Microsoft wants System Center 2012 to manage it. The Redmond, Wash.-based software behemoth announced that Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) System Center 2012 Release Candidate is now available for download.
"IT leaders tell me that private cloud computing promises to help them focus on innovation over maintenance, to streamline costs and to respond to the need for IT speed," said Satya Nadella, president of Microsoft Server and Tools Business. "We are delivering on that promise today. With System Center 2012, customers can move beyond the industry hype and speculation and progress into the here and now of private cloud."
System Center is a set of Microsoft server products that until now were focused on helping IT administrators manage networks of Windows Server and client desktop systems. But now Microsoft wants to position it as the universal remote control of infrastructure management; providing a single pane view whether the infrastructure in question is Windows, Linux or Mac OS, virtual or physical, internal or provisioned by a service provider.
"We've taken this approach where we think about the application first," Nadella said. "System Center 2012 is all about the application and the applications' needs."
Brad Anderson, corporate vice president, Microsoft Management and Security Division, agreed. "We know most organizations are going to be consuming multiple clouds. They want one consistent, holistic way to look at all of it."
All this, and support for multiple hypervisors in a single package, puts Microsoft in a unique position compared with VMware, Anderson said. "We're the heterogeneous provider and they're not."
Microsoft has taken the eight components of System Center and bundled them into a single package with System Center 2012, at the same time collapsing the product from eight SKUs to two: System Center 2012 Standard Edition and System Center 2012 Datacenter Edition. The standard edition is for managing physical servers, while the datacenter edition is for managing virtual servers. And Microsoft's license for the datacenter edition covers an unlimited number of virtual machines, which Anderson noted allows organizations to scale much more efficiently and cost effectively.
Microsoft has made big changes to a number of components of System Center 2012. Among the biggest updates is ConfigMgr 2012, which can now be used not only to patch/update Windows clients and servers, but also Linux and Mac OS systems. A plug-in also enables it to manage iOS and Android devices.
"It can now set policy across all of a user's devices," Anderson said. This promises to considerably ease IT managers' headaches with regard to bring-your-own-device by granting the power to patch, manage, lock down and report on the status of all devices.
Microsoft has also enhanced Virtual Machine Manager 2012. It already supported Microsoft, VMware and Citrix/Xen virtual hosts and guests, and it has added management of an organization's "fabric," including SAN storage and networking infrastructure.
The new front-end for self-service automation processes is App Controller 2012, which provides a central point for setting tasks for ConfigMgr, OpsMgr, Virtual Machine Manager, etc.