Microsoft System Center 2012 / Private Cloud Event Commentary

Strategy and Initiatives for 2012

As Microsoft announced their strategy on Private cloud and the upcoming roll-out of System Center 2012 this morning, I’ve been exchanging messages with our clients on some of the key points (thanks to those of you TEXTING me while I was online live...), wanted to summarize some of the discussions and the questions (and my answers) to the queries going on this morning.What Microsoft Shared this Morning:  For those who missed the live broadcast this morning, Microsoft’s Server and Tools President, Satya Nadella and Corporate VP in charge of System Center, Brad Anderson kicked off the morning talking about the upcoming launch of System Center 2012.  For those who have used System Center products in the past, like Configuration Manager for patching and updating systems or image roll-outs, or Operations Manager for monitoring and alerting, or Virtual Machine Manager for virtual server management, or the like, the new 2012 release of products that are all on final release candidate beta will be shipping very very soon.  But unlike the individual products of the past, the System Center 2012 products have been engineered to tightly integrate together so that organizations can more easily monitor, manage, patch, update, support, and document operations in their datacenter from a single solution.  NO, we’ve been on the early adopter beta for the System Center 2012 products for almost 18 months now, and we have helped organizations implement System Center components one by one, some orgs choosing to only implement just a single product like ConfigMgr or OpsMgr. However, once you install 1 of the components, to put in another of the components, it’s just a matter of installing the additional component and then running through configuration processes to link the components together for common reporting, monitoring, and automation processes.  As Brad mentioned this morning, starting with the System Center 2012 products, licensing for System Center 2012 will be consolidated.  While you can install them one at a time, the licensing is a bundle, so you pay for a single license and get ALL of the System Center 2012 components.  Actually not really, what we’ve found is most orgs are already implementing a couple of the System Center products, and with better integration between the various components, adding on a 3rd, 4th, 5th component within the first 3-4 months has been pretty commonplace for our early adopter clients.  By the time you buy/install 2-3 of the System Center components, the rest of the 3-4 components are already paid for in the bundle.  I kind of liken it to the Microsoft Office suite, that while most orgs use Outlook and Word really really heavily, any time their users want to use Excel or PowerPoint, they’re already licensed and the company doesn’t have to pay extra for the other components when users need them.How does buying and deploying more of the System Center 2012 bundle of products really save us money if we will have to spend more to buy the entire suite?  What we’ve found over the past year+ with early adopters is the ability to save money in other products as well as save time (which translates to saving money) in deployment and support time.  Most orgs we work with have 5-10 different management products, things for patching/updating, things for monitoring/alerting, buying separate tools now to manage mobile devices, looking to buy separate helpdesk and support tools, etc.  And 5-10 different products is being conservative.  We are helping orgs implement System Center 2012 for their basic patching and updating of Windows-based systems, but with plug-ins from Quest Software we can now patch/update Apple Macs and Linux systems using the same System Center 2012 product.  Or with a plug-in from Odyssey Software for Apple iOS and Android phones, we can now patch / update mobile phones right within System Center 2012 ConfigMgr as well!  That’s easily 3-4 patching/updating tools that enterprises have that can be consolidated down to ONE solution!  And for monitoring, we usually see orgs with 3-4 separate monitoring tools for monitoring Windows servers, non-Windows servers, monitoring routers/switches with another tool, monitoring applications with yet another tool…  With System Center 2012 Operations Mgr, we’ve consolidated ALL monitoring (VMware hosts, Windows and Linux guests, physical servers, Internet connections, Cisco routers and switches, Microsoft Exchange and Oracle Financials) into the SINGLE System Center platform!  THAT’s where orgs are saving money, in decreasing license contracts from 5-10+ to just 1 license contract with System Center, and the integration and reporting is all centralized in 1 tool (System Center) instead of spending hundreds of hours trying to cross-integrate the 5-10+ tools together.  As part of the early adopter program, we have been working with orgs to migrate to 2012, and as you would expect, Microsoft has full migration support and provides whitepaper/guides, wizards, and step by step processes to shift from System Center 2007 to System Center 2012.  Some of the products provide in-place upgrades from 2007, some are parallel (side by side) upgrades with wizards that move over configuration settings, inventory, historical data, etc.  Our early adopters have found the benefits in System Center 2012 outweigh the efforts in performing the migrations as the migration is a 1 time staged process, once completed, the features/functions in System Center 2012 have helped saved dozens (hundreds) of hours with automated processes that no longer have to be separately scripted or run manually, there’s actually a lot of pretty slick stuff in System Center 2012.What’s new in System Center 2012?  Wow, I can spend hours going through all of the new things in 2012, but let me simplify the process into the TOP things that our clients have jumped on in System Center 2012:* ConfigMgr 2012:  Orgs are now using ConfigMgr 2012 to patch/update not only Windows clients, but also Windows servers, Linux and Apple Mac systems (using the Quest plug-in), and iPhones / Androids (using the Odyssey plug-in).  Also in ConfigMgr is a much more enhanced configuration management (policies) function that allows you to set global policies on locking down ALL servers and ALL client systems and ALL devices with common policies.  So it’s easier to patch, manage, lock down, and report on the status of stuff than ever before in a SINGLE tool* OpsMgr 2012:  Orgs are now using OpsMgr 2012 to monitor “everything”, not just monitoring Windows servers and apps, but also monitoring Linux servers (using the Quest plug-in agents), routers, switches, firewalls, photocopy machines, PBX phone systems, non-Microsoft apps like Oracle or SAP, cloud-based services like, hosted datacenters, laptops, mobile phones and tablets, everything!  Instead of having multiple apps monitoring things individually, OpsMgr 2012 provides a central dashboard to roll-up the monitoring of EVERYTHING directly into the OpsMgr console!* Virtual Machine Manager 2012:  VMM does more than just physical or virtual and virtual to virtual migration of guest sessions into a management system that handles Microsoft, VMware, and Citrix/Xen virtual hosts and guests, but it now provides management of an organization’s “fabric” including SAN storage and networking infrastructure.  So when provisioning a guest session, VMM can provision not only the guest OS, but everything that is needed for the guest OS to run top to bottom.* Data Protection Mgr 2012: DPM 2012 has added granular backup and recovery of information, with a couple of the major pieces around recovery of SharePoint data, SQL data, and HyperV guest sessions.  With DPM 2012, an org can now backup and restore a SINGLE SharePoint document, posting, or list directly into the original SharePoint environment in the middle of the day!  Try doing that with any other backup product!  So if a user deletes a file or overwrites a file, it can be immediately restored from DPM 2012 right into SharePoint.  SQL data can be recovered by the SQL DBA as the DBA directs, simplifying the process of data recovery for SQL databases.  And HyperV can backup HyperV hosts and guests, with granular recovery of guest sessions right within DPM.  A HUGE benefit for orgs looking to better manage their data!* Service Manager 2012:  This is the major v2 update of their help desk / incident management tool that has been greatly enhanced for better integration with other System Center components AND better integration with non-Microsoft operational tools. Orgs who have an existing help desk tool or looking to implement something that works extremely well within the System Center 2012 family, SCSM 2012 is truly enterprise ready with major updates our enterprise customers have asked for!* Orchestrator 2012:  This used to be Opalis, now call System Center 2012 Orchestrator that provides run book automation, or simply it allows orgs to create automated process of any datacenter / operations “stuff”.  Can have OpsMgr monitor a www Website, and if there are problems with the site, OpsMgr can automatically be hooked into Orchestrator that’ll launch a process to do alerting, notifications, even automatically build new systems and bring new configurations online.  The biggest improvements with Orchestrator is the addition of literally hundreds of new functions, connectors, and integration components that has allowed our clients and us build scripts and processes for an entire enterprises operations.* App Controller 2012:  This is new to the System Center 2012 family and effectively is the “frontend” to self-service automation processes.  Orgs can go to App Controller and select from a menu of tasks that goes out and tickles ConfigMgr, OpsMgr, VMM, DPM, etc to do things from a central point rather than having different URLs and different Webpages for users to do things.  This is where the integration REALLY pays off, where orgs that used to have 5-10+ different management apps required separate logons, passwords, URLs, configuration files, etc for everything, with AppController and the System Center 2012 productline, single point of information access and integration!Where do I get more info?  Microsoft is continuing to release more and more content as the System Center 2012 product readies itself for launch very shortly, so going to the webpage is a good place to start.  I along with Chris Amaris are writing a 1000+ page book “System Center 2012 Unleashed” that we are slating to release later this Spring that’ll cover tips, tricks, best practices on implementing, utilizing, and supporting System Center 2012 based on the 12-18+ month early adopter work we’ve done.  So there’s a lot of resources coming up online on System Center.  And within the next couple months, I will be running an entire blog series on System Center 2012 here on NetworkWorld, so come back to this site for more stuff ongoing (my direct blog post URL is this helps…  Pretty exciting stuff that Microsoft announced this morning, looking forward to having all of this out there ongoing!!!

Does that Mean I have to Install ALL of the System Center 2012 components at once now?

So what’s new about the licensing?

So we’re going to have to buy everything now, which will grossly increase our cost, right?

How difficult is it to upgrade from System Center 2007 stuff to the new System Center 2012 stuff?

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