Microsoft System Center 2012 overview

Microsoft System Center 2012 overview

Find out how updated products like Virtual Machine Manager 2012, Configuration Manager 2012, and Orchestrator 2012 can help with systems management in the new System Center 2012 bundle.

As cloud and virtualization technologies enable administrators to extend the scalability of their systems, they also present a very real issue: How can these increasingly abstract and sprawling environments be managed?

Microsoft System Center is a systems management suite that aims to equip admins with the tools to monitor issues and automate management within their networks. Microsoft System Center 2012, the latest version, includes a revamped group of integrated offerings that reflect recent acquisitions and are focused around managing cloud deployments.

While all System Center products were previously offered in standalone versions, System Center 2012 will now only be available as a bundled offering -- in two editions, Standard (which can be deployed to a maximum of two virtual machines) and Datacenter (which allows for an unlimited number of virtual machines).  The new licensing structure is seen as a move to compete with VMware's vCenter systems management product, which charges per VM, but it also brings up questions for any shops previously using only part of the suite.

The links below offer further details on Microsoft System Center 2012, reviewing licensing news, important features and suggested implementations. Check back for future updates as the story becomes clearer.

Table of contents:

Microsoft System Center 2012 release info and licensing news

System Center 2012 SP1 hits GA, brings fixes for suite
The System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 hit general availability and included the long-awaited support for SQL Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012. It also had fixes for the products in the system management suite.

Reviewing the Microsoft System Center 2012 Service Pack 1
The enhancements and fixes in the SP1 beta can support Windows Server 2012, but it also offers increased support for PowerShell, Hyper-V and the cloud.

System Center 2012 will manage Windows Server 2012 … eventually
The System Center 2012 SP1 beta supporting the latest Windows Server version is out, but its timing frustrates IT pros.

Getting a clearer picture of System Center Operations Manager 2012
Microsoft's Adam Hall details the significant changes made to the Operations Manager component in System Center 2012.

Microsoft to VMware: Can you hear the footsteps?
The new, simplified licensing scheme for System Center 2012 puts Microsoft in a better competitive position – but it's not going to be a bundle of joy for everyone.

Cost considerations – or, a license to hyper-drive
Will the new System Center suite cost you more or less than what you're paying now? The short answer: It depends. But here are the basic numbers, plus predictions on how the changes could escalate adoption of Hyper-V.

Cloud, consumerization can't be ignored in systems management
System Center 2012 might be the best evidence yet for Microsoft's purported "all-in" strategy for the cloud, with management features that make both public and private deployments simpler. The story gets stormier, though, when admins begin to think about BYOD.

Microsoft System Center 2012 features

SCVMM 2012 meets the need for (virtual) speed
The main selling point of Virtual Machine Manager 2012 is efficiency -- rapid provisioning of virtual machines, centralized infrastructure management, optimized workload placement -- and virtualization experts agree it stands up to the competition. But VMware's vCloud Director still won the race to general release, and that could be all that matters.

Virtual Machine Manager and Hyper-V management
System Center's Virtual Machine Manager has made great strides in managing Hyper-V hosts. Improvements in deployment, cluster and the removal of managing barriers are evaluated by our expert.

Orchestrator 2012 offers more than automation
In the System Center family of products, Orchestrator is the industrious matriarch, managing to do dozens of tasks at once while making sure no one breaks anything.  In this case, it all comes down to efficient scripting, and Don Jones explains how can PowerShell and System Center can make GUI-ful music together.

Dear System Center Advisor: What's wrong with my server?
Server monitoring isn't just about responding to momentary alerts. But don't take our word for it: listen to System Center Advisor, Microsoft's new cloud-hosted service that looks at things from more of a long-term perspective. The alerts you'll receive through this service allow you to address issues before they become chronic problems -- think of it as preventive care instead of emergency surgery.

Platform, schmatform: How System Center 2012 eases heterogeneous management
System Center 2012 is built for the multi-platform data center environment, with support for UNIX, Linux, AIX, HP-UX and Solaris. Don't start cheering just yet, though; the promise comes with some caveats.

Add-ons in System Center 2012 attempt to solve management setbacks
The Service Manager, Operations Manager and Orchestrator add-ons in System Center 2012 can make an IT pro's life easier in Windows data centers. Learn more about how these free tools can help management.

A peek at System Center's private parts
Looking to build a Hyper-V private cloud? Microsoft hopes you are, and puts System Center at the, um, center of those efforts. Find out how each piece of the suite – from the more obvious Virtual Machine Manager to the lesser known App Controller – contributes to the development of an elastic, efficient environment.

On Configuration Manager

Configuration Manager SP1 Beta supports deployments, network detection
System Center Configuration Manager will get its first service pack in early 2013, but the beta is currently available for download. SP1 will support the deployments of Windows 8 and Windows 2012 as well as Windows USB To Go. Other features administrators can expect include PowerShell automation of administrative tasks and 3G and 4G network detection. 

FAQ: System Center Configuration Manager 2012
Configuration Manager offers a lot of new features. But is it the right fit for your organization?

Configuring the consumerized workplace with SCCM 2012
Tablets, smartphones, desktops, laptops -- the amount of endpoints in your system is growing every day. You can't stop this sprawl, you can only hope to contain it. Configuration Manager 2012 offers a revamped application delivery model that should enable more flexibility and customization, which should help keep those pesky employees off your back for at least a little while.

Test your System Center 2012 knowledge

You've read the guide, now see how much you know about a wide variety of topics in System Center.

Quiz: System Center 2012