Microsoft supports unified management for Cloud OS

Service pack for System Center and upgraded Intune service create a single platform for

Microsoft is upgrading System Center so businesses can manage data-center resources under a single platform regardless of whether those resources are spread out across private, public and hybrid clouds or within Microsoft's Azure cloud service.

In addition, Microsoft has made it possible to extend System Center Configuration Manager to its cloud-based management service called Intune as a way to manage the compliance of endpoints including PCs and a range of mobile devices.

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The company talks about the new versions of these products as a means for managing its Cloud OS, the name it has given to the combination of Windows Server and Azure that result in a flexible environment where customers can add and remove capacity as needed and take advantage of cost savings that can come with public cloud use.

With the release of System Center Service Pack 1, corporate customers can expand their data centers to public infrastructures but still manage applications as if they are part of their on-site infrastructure, the company says.

Business IT staff can move virtual machines among physical data centers, private and public clouds and Azure but view them as part of a single logical environment. System Center SP1 displays data center resources as a whole including networking, storage and compute, says Mike Schutz, general manager for Microsoft. The new service pack also facilitates backing up data to the cloud.

As part of the service pack, System Center Configuration Manager can couple with Intune to create one management platform to any device. The latest versions of System Center Configuration Manager and Intune add support for Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows Phone 8 as well as iPhones, iPads and Android phones and tablets.

Microsoft is also releasing Windows Azure Services on Windows Server which supports service providers that want to offer hosted services using a Microsoft infrastructure. This makes it possible for Microsoft partner service providers to offer services that previously were available only via Azure. This can include the ability to manage the services using premises-based instances of System Center and support multi-tenancy in their networks.

(Tim Greene covers Microsoft for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at tgreene@nww.com and follow him on Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/Tim_Greene.)

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