As organizations migrate from purely physical servers to virtual environments, the next logical step is to reorganize the datacenter into a private cloud. The private cloud is best described as a flexible, agile datacenter that can adapt quickly to the changing demands of an IT infrastructure and, more importantly, the business that it supports.
In private cloud computing, all of the resources remain in-house. Initially the private cloud will be the most obvious choice for the enterprise that will not or cannot have their proprietary data in the public cloud. The System Center 2012 suite has come at the right time, allowing Microsoft administrators complete control over their private cloud infrastructures.
System Center 2012 consists of seven products that will be used to automate the management of a virtual server environment. It is probably the most significant single release of management software in quite some time and should revolutionize datacenter management. Here, I will cover each of the components in SC 2012, emphasizing what is new and what is useful.
Unification of the Suite
With System Center 2012, Microsoft has designed the products with a unified installer and unified licensing. Each of the products can be installed from a single set of interfaces. Most importantly, Microsoft has retained the per-processor license model, not the per-core model that VMware has adopted. This will result in significant savings for those deploying the SC 2012 suite, particularly with Hyper-V servers.
Virtual Machine Manager
For 2012 the System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) becomes the primary centerpiece of the private cloud solution. While the VMM is primarily aimed at managing Microsoft Hyper-V servers, its standard fabric design includes support for VMware and Citrix hypervisors. The VMM provides a very useful graphical view of the server that makes it quite easy for the administrator to understand exactly what is on each virtual server. Eliminated from the VMM is the self-service portal, which has now been moved to the System Center Service Manager.
With the 2012 version, we have enhanced monitoring capabilities through the integration of the recently acquired AviCode product. The AviCode integration will provide application performance data without the need to purchase a third-party product. Also added in OpsMgr 2012 is more capable network monitoring. The new approach should provide the server administrators an effective view of networking issues that might have an impact on their virtual servers and applications.
To put its mark on Opalis, Microsoft renamed it Orchestrator. At the core of its capability is the runbook, which is used by Orchestrator to automate processes across various operating systems and applications. Within the runbooks are activities an administrator can configure, such as monitoring logs or sending an email. Central to its function is the workflow, which will allow the creation of complex management and monitoring tasks.
The new version is the focal point for requesting added capacity as a replacement for the VMM Self Service portal. It also has a new service catalog and a release management component.
Data Protection Manager
Perhaps most significant is the granular item level recovery capability that Data Protection Manager 2012 (DPM) now provides. This is particularly good news for those of you supporting Exchange Server, SharePoint, and SQL Server. We can also do an in-place upgrade from DPM 2010.
System Center Configuration Manager
Certainly the most-deployed component in the suite, SCCM probably has the smallest role in the private cloud infrastructure. An organization that obtains the SC 2012 suite gains the benefit of the substantially improved SCCM for control of the desktops and laptops at the bare minimum. It should also be noted that Microsoft has moved the Endpoint Protection (anti-virus) management component from the Forefront suite to SCCM.