System Center Essentials is a systems management solution featuring automated task management to direct, deploy and secure IT environments. Unlike other System Center products, however, Essentials is specifically designed for midsized organizations with 50 to 500 PCs.
System Center Essentials is a multi-server monitoring solution that uses a single console made up of four management panes – the navigation pane, views pane, details pane and tasks pane – that keep a close eye on network activity through event logs and security alerts, which are then troubleshooted. Essentials also incorporates several System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) and System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) features for more efficient software updates and application deployments.
Driven largely by consumer requests and feedback, Microsoft developed the first-generation product, System Center Essentials 2007, with the goal of eliminating the multi-solution process that many medium-sized businesses use to manage their IT environments. The idea was to create a single resolution for server, application and network management.
Microsoft released the first service pack for System Center Essentials 2007 in March 2008 to further help administrators meet and resolve systems management challenges. It includes improvements to the installation process, management packs, backup and recovery practices and memory usage.
In June 2010, Microsoft released System Center Essentials 2010, which features a variety of simplified tasks for everything from virtualization management to inventory monitoring. For instance, Essentials 2010 includes a step-by-step guide with templates for virtual server creation, as well as a new console design for clear-cut status checks.
Because System Center Essentials is designed for midsized businesses, it's also meant to be an affordable solution for emerging organizations. Companies are not required to purchase the complete product initially. Instead, businesses can purchase necessary components as they expand.
- Setup and visibility improvements – System Center Essentials 2010 installation begins with a qualification scan to prepare systems for installation. Administrators can also control which components are installed and track Essentials updates for optimal performance. In addition, the release features more than 180 reports for monitoring daily health.
- Self-service troubleshooting – Systems Center Essentials also includes several management packs that teach administrators how to detect and secure various issues that may threaten an IT environment.
- Virtualization management component – System Center Essentials 2010 works with System Center Virtual Machine Manager to compose the virtualization management aspect of Essentials 2010, which supports general virtual machine management, P2V exchanges and backup and recovery administration.