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IDG News Service - With the release of the first service pack for Microsoft System Center 2012, Microsoft is taking another step in its ambitious goal of helping customers manage their on-premises IT and Microsoft Azure cloud services with a single set of IT management controls.
"System Center delivers a single control plane for IT to manage not just the infrastructure throughout the cloud, but the application platform and respective applications as well," said Michael Park, Microsoft corporate vice president of marketing for server and tools. "Windows Server 2012 and Windows System Center 2012 enable hybrid IT across private, hosted and public clouds."
Realizing this goal is a challenging one for Microsoft because it must coordinate the features among its Windows Server software, its Azure cloud service and System Center, which will increasingly serve as a single management console for both Azure and Windows Server deployments.
Microsoft System Center Service Pack 1 (SP1) augments System Center Service 12 -- which was released last April -- with a number of new features to manage hybrid deployments.
Microsoft System Center SP1 is the first version of the software to fully manage the new advanced features in Microsoft's Windows Server 2012, released in September, noted Andrew Conway, Microsoft director of marketing. The new Windows server OS offers many network virtualization features such as the ability to manage IP addresses.
"Critical to the idea of moving around virtualizations is the ability to isolate IP addresses in software thereby [increasing] the ability to speed them across the infrastructure," Conway said. "We added all the capabilities into [System Center's] virtual machine management to really make that possible."
This is also the first version of System Center that will allow organizations to manage virtual machines both in house and on third-party Azure cloud services. Previously, System Center could be used to manage use of Microsoft's own Azure service, but not use of third-party Azure services. The new cloud controls will also provide a way for customers to back up their servers to a Windows Azure service.
Windows System Center SP1 also supports Global Service Monitor, a Windows Azure service launched Tuesday as a trial service, that measures Web application performance. Global Service Monitor will be fully available in March, Park said.
In addition to new tools for administrators, System Center 2012 SP1 also includes some goodies for third-party Azure hosting companies. System Center SP1 also includes a Service Provider Foundation API (application programming interface), which third-party Azure providers can use to provide self-service management for their customers. Microsoft has also released Windows Azure Services on Windows Server, which will allow hosting providers to offer Azure cloud services identical to Microsoft's.
In addition to the System Center upgrades, Microsoft has also updated its Intune service for managing deployments of Windows personal computers. The fresh edition of the service can manage devices running the latest Microsoft operating systems, including Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows Phone 8. Intune now can be accessed from 45 additional countries for a total of 87 countries worldwide.