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MMS 2013: In the Cloud

System Center wants to help you build your data center without boundaries.

It is cloudy in Las Vegas today, but even if the sun was shining, Microsoft is definitely "in the cloud" when it comes to System Center 2012 and Windows Server 2012. That, of course, could get a little interesting when your demos are in the cloud and the Internet link goes down...but Brad Anderson's keynote was saved when access was reestablished, initially by using smartphones for tethering (in Windows Phone lingo, enabling "internet sharing"). Necessity was definitely the mother of invention!

Microsoft says the data center is being transformed with cloud computing into a data center without boundaries, and it wants to be that cloud platform. The focus of this year's single keynote session began with System Center Cloud and Data Center Management and then moved on to Enterprise Client Management. Throughout, the theme was the data center without boundaries, where private cloud and public cloud (via Windows Azure) work together; and different types of devices (PCs, tablets, and phones) can be managed through a single interface using Windows Intune and Windows Azure Active Directory.

One can't discuss the cloud without virtualization, and Brad emphasized how Microsoft workloads run best on Microsoft hypervisors, citing several large organizations that had moved from "the other hypervisor" to Hyper-V. The Hyper-V love fest included some impressive statistics from Domino's Pizza (which sold 11 million slices of pizza on Super Bowl Sunday this year) where changing hypervisors saw a 28% improvement in disk access, 36% faster memory, and a 99% reduction in help desk calls. Brad also mentioned that 99% of SQL Server 2012 implementations could now be virtualized.

New capabilities shown in the demos included:

  • A management pack for Windows Azure now available for preview.
  • A public preview of the new System Center Advisor connector to Operations Manager which brings Advisor alerts into Operations Manager (now a free download for System Center 2012 SP1 customers).
  • Windows Azure Backup available in preview.
  • Global Server Monitor (GSM) - the ability to monitor from the outside into Operations Manager - is now commercially available. GSM integration can be coupled with OpsMgr's Application Performance Management (APM) capabilities to send problems to developers through a Visual Studio Team Foundation queue, connecting dev and ops together.

Also announced was Microsoft's participation in OpenDaylight, a collaborative, open source project to advance Software-Defined Networking.

The client portion of Brad's keynote was on people-centric IT, where the focus is on delivering on requests from users. Since last year's MMS, 1.2 billion smart cloud-connected devices have sold, and 50% of corporate users consider BYOD as a right and not a privilege. Microsoft proposes IT address that by using Intune to manage BYOD, along with creating access policies for applications, data, and files based on the user's identity in Active Directory and the device they are currently using (PC, tablet, or smartphone) and if they are behind a corporate network at the time or elsewhere. This combination of who is the user, what is the device, and where are they working can enable a single solution across PCs and devices and help you to delight your end users, and can be enabled using Azure Active Directory (currently supporting 9,000 authentications per second) as a bridge between data center management and enterprise client management. You can unify your environment and manage your devices where they live, using the Intune connector to Configuration Manager 2012 SP1 for device management between PCs and devices in a cost-effective and consistent way.

What's next? Tune in to TechEd where the "next wave" of innovations will be announced.

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