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What changes are coming to System Center components?

While new features coming in Microsoft System Center 2016 may sway an organization to consider upgrading, the loss of functionality may put off some from making a switch.

The fate of existing System Center components can sometimes be more important than the new and improved features promised in an upgrade. Systems management is based on the way features and functions interact with dependencies, such as other software versions or hardware devices.

New System Center components are usually welcomed, but changing -- or removing -- features can be extremely disruptive. An organization must weigh whether upgrading to gain new features will be worth the extra effort needed to develop workarounds for any deprecated features IT depend on.

The official release of Microsoft System Center 2016 is expected in the third quarter of 2016, but if the System Center Technical Preview 4 is any indication, an assortment of features and functionality will not carry over from the current version, System Center 2012 R2.

New System Center components are usually welcomed, but changing -- or removing -- features can be extremely disruptive.

Some of these changes can be serious. For example, support for Citrix XenServer and VMware vCenter Server 4.1 and 5.1 in Virtual Machine Manager has been removed; users need to use VMware vCenter Server 5.5 or 5.8 instead. Such actions force users to upgrade the hypervisor or other virtualization tools that can be expensive and disruptive. Similarly, support for the IT Governance Risk Compliance Process Management Pack SP1 for Service Manager has been removed, leaving users to select another governance partner that can integrate with Microsoft System Center 2016. This can have major consequences for compliance and the company's governance team.

Other features that have been removed in the technical preview include App Controller, Server AppV support, Service Manager Cloud Service Process Pack, Authoring Management Packs for Operations Manager with Visio and Service Reporting. Microsoft offers workarounds or alternatives for each removal but testing and deploying adequate workarounds can still pose a major challenge for IT staff.

When evaluating a major new management platform update such as Microsoft System Center 2016, it's important for IT staff to perform ample regression testing -- not only to see how new features and functions might perform, but also to verify that current dependencies are not disrupted.

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