Microsoft Tests Updated System Center Tools

by Stuart J. Johnston

Microsoft shows off new and updated tools to meld public and private cloud management at its annual management summit.

Microsoft will begin beta testing new releases of some of its System Center management tools Tuesday, adding new features to make them work with both public and private cloud environments.

"The new System Center 2012, slated for release later this year ... will enable IT managers to build private clouds with the infrastructure they know and own today," a Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) spokesperson told InternetNews.com in an email.

The announcement came at the Microsoft Management Summit in Las Vegas during a keynote by Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of the company's management and security division. The idea is to provide comprehensive management tools that cover the entire cloud computing stack, from the environment to the applications, and from public to private.

"Virtualization and server consolidation are important steps toward cloud computing, but it's essential to have management tools that provide intelligence about how the apps themselves are doing, not just management of virtual machine black boxes," Anderson said in a statement.

The beta of System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) 2012 will provide new features for datacenter and cloud management, including the ability to pool and allocate virtual resources, such as hypervisors VMware, Xen, and Hyper-V. It will also manage Windows Azure resources.

Meanwhile, System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) 2012 will provide monitoring for .NET and J2EE applications. The tool is the result of Microsoft's acquisition of AVIcode last fall.

Besides providing maximum availability and performance, SCOM adds new dashboards to track service-level agreements and network performance, the company said.

Microsoft is also working on System Center Service Manager, which will provide "self-service" deployment and management capabilities to a wide range of users, IT managers, and developers.

A fourth package, System Center Data Protection Manager, will provide "enterprise-class centralized backup" and deeper Hyper-V support, including support for SharePoint and de-duplication workloads, Microsoft statements said.

In addition, System Center Project, which is codenamed Concero, will provide a management console with functions appropriate to each group of users.

"You can register Windows Azure resources within Concero and manage both the public and private cloud resources," Amy Barzdukas, general manager of Microsoft's server and tools business, told InternetNews.com.

For instance, Concero lets application managers deploy and manage their applications on private and public cloud infrastructure, while still letting IT professionals maintain visibility and control across both, the company said.

Further, Microsoft also debuted the System Center Orchestrator -- previously known as Opalis, which the company purchased in late 2009.

Microsoft characterizes Orchestrator as an IT process automation platform that orchestrates workflows across systems and tasks. Finally, System Center Advisor, previously codenamed Atlanta, and available as a release candidate Tuesday, provides a "secure cloud service" meant to help IT professionals avoid configuration problems.

Although the company did not give exact dates, the new versions of the System Center tools are coming fairly soon.

"The overall System Center 2012 is expected [to ship] by the end of the year," Barzdukas said.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

This article was originally published on Wednesday Mar 23rd 2011
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