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Microsoft Releases SCVMM 2012 Beta, Unveils System Center 2012 Line

Microsoft unveiled its System Center 2012 product line on Tuesday at its Microsoft Management Summit, taking place in Las Vegas. As part of the announcement, the company also made available the beta of System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 (SCVMM 2012) here.

System Center 2012 succeeds System Center 2007. Besides SCVMM 2012, the product line includes System Center Service Manager 2012, System Center Operations Manager 2012 and System Center Data Protection Manager 2012.

New Capabilities
Microsoft added enhancements to the products in the System Center 2012 family, but it also added some new capabilities.

One of the new capabilities is called System Center Orchestrator, an IT process automation solution for datacenter management that coordinates services, which is based on Microsoft's Opalis acquisition. Microsoft updated Opalis to version 6.3 in November and announced last year that it would be available to customers who purchased Microsoft's server management suite enterprise license or server management suite datacenter license with Software Assurance. This month, Microsoft announced a Technology Adoption Program to sign-up for its next-generation Opalis release.

Another new capability is System Center Advisor, which is the service originally code-named "Atlanta" that can be used to actively detect server configuration problems. System Center Advisor is currently available as a release candidate version at this Microsoft portal. The technology was first announced at the last year's SQL PASS event, but it's not just for SQL Server, according to Microsoft officials.

The third and last new capability is System Center Project, code-named "Concero." System Center Project is the successor to Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager Self-Service Portal, according to Amy Barzdukas, Microsoft's general manager of server and tools communications. It allows workflows to be created, such as assigning a cloud to the finance department within an organization, even while IT administrators maintain overall control.

Microsoft is enabling self-service portals that will allow service owners to configure, manage and deploy services "without having to deal with things like Virtual Machine Manager and spinning up virtual machines," explained Don Retallack, an analyst with the Directions on Microsoft consultancy. He added that Concero is part of this effort but that SCVMM 2012 will also enable the capability.

"Concero looks very much like the VMM self-service portal but with some other features -- a graphical view of the service, for example -- and it will be tied to all of the System Center products at some point, including Operations Manager," Retallack explained.

Enhancements
As for the enhanced capabilities, System Center Operations Manager 2012 now fully integrates Microsoft's AVIcode acquisition, which helps pinpoint flaws in applications built on Microsoft .NET and J2EE platforms. System Center Service Manager 2012 now enables self-service requests from business managers to request cloud resources. System Center Data Protection Manager 2012 adds "enterprise-class" centralized backup and protection, de-duplication support, and SharePoint integration functionality.

New in SCVMM 2012 is its beefed-up hypervisor support. The virtual machine management product currently works with Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware vSphere 4.1 solutions, and it now includes support for Citrix's Xen Server. IT pros can manage multiple clouds running different hypervisors, explained Kenon Owens, technical product manager for Microsoft integrated virtualization, during a press demo. Owens generally noted that Microsoft has done a lot of work to meet its customer requirements for managing private clouds with this release of SCVMM 2012.

Another new feature in SCVMM 2012 described by Owens is called "dynamic optimization." It allows IT pros to allocate virtual machine workloads on the fly. He said that this capability allows IT pros to set how the workload is balanced and they can also manage capabilities such as power optimization with it. Users can also create collections of virtual machines in a new "service template." Owens said that the nice thing about using service templates is that versions can be set for them, which can be useful for IT pros when they update services. Microsoft also added storage capability based on the SMI-S storage protocol.

As noted above, some parts of the System Center 2012 product family are available today as test versions. Microsoft plans to deliver final System Center 2012 product releases sometime this year, but the details weren't disclosed. However, Retallack said that most of the System Center 2012 products will be released by Microsoft in the second half of this year.

Microsoft also issued a visionary statement about enabling private cloud computing. Brad Anderson, corporate vice president at Microsoft's Management and Security Division, noted that IT is moving on from just consolidating servers through virtualization into a "new computing paradigm." That paradigm will focus more on managing applications and tapping cloud computing, he explained in a blog post.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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