Microsoft pushes Azure, leaves data centers in the dark

Microsoft’s enterprise vision revolves around cloud computing, so where do users of products like System Center Configuration Manager stand?

HOUSTON – IT pros have heard enough about Microsoft’s cloud technologies and want greater focus on the on-premises management tools they rely on every day.

Microsoft unveiled a bevy of cloud-based products at TechEd 2014, including cloud-based Windows Intune updates, but IT administrators felt there was little meat offered for Microsoft's flagship products like System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM).

Some IT pros see this as the writing on the wall for isolated, on-premises systems management products.

"I've seen a lot of development within [SCCM], but I see them trying to hook Intune to that environment," said Tyson Mock, IT director at Cochise County in Bisbee, Arizona. "So they're trying to make it all work together. And I think they're doing a decent job."

"We're going to be looking at on-premises stuff for a long time to come," Mock said. "And I think as long as we have on-premises stuff, we'll need System Center."

In a Twitter chat in March, a Microsoft representative offered some reassurance that on-premises tools will continue. SCCM is a key part of Microsoft's strategy, but hybrid is an option with Intune, he said.

Though release timeframes will vary to some degree, Microsoft plans to deliver the same features within both Intune and SCCM, said a Microsoft spokesperson. The company's goal is to provide unified management across on-premises, cloud or hybrid options.

Some Microsoft on-site management tool updates did come this week, however.

Microsoft made available the Windows Management Framework 5.0 Preview for download which includes updates to Windows PowerShell 5.0, Windows Powershell Desired State Configuration and Windows PowerShell Integrated Scripting Environment, Network Switch cmdlets, and OneGet.

Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 was last updated in October to support Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2. It also enhanced support for newer mobile devices, including iOS and Android.

Associate Site Editor Jeremy Stanley contributed to this report.

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