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Recapping Microsoft Management Summit 2010

I thought I’d take a quick moment to run through some of the key points I took away from Microsoft Management Summit 2010 this year for those who weren’t able to attend. I was only there Tuesday and part of Wednesday, but spoke to quite a few people (both Microsoft folks and attendees), and came away with some interesting tidbits.

  • In case you didn’t already know this, Microsoft is really committed to the cloud. A large part of the Tuesday morning keynote was dedicated to how customers can (and will be able to) use System Center products to monitor and manage their cloud environments. In fact, System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 already has cloud monitoring support built-in, and there is a lot more to come.

    Most of the attendees I spoke with found the cloud talk to be extremely interesting, even if they are a ways away from actually implementing it themselves. One developer I spoke with who has played around with Windows Azure seemed especially pleased with the path Microsoft was on with System Center, saying “Azure is cool, but it’s really just a technology. It’s how you manage it – that’s where the really good stuff is.”

  • Just to reemphasize, everyone I talked to found the cloud chatter to be mostly fascinating (rather than annoying), but hardly anyone seems to be close to actually doing it. One reason behind the reluctance was just a general lack of understanding from people about how to make the cloud work for them. As one attendee put it, “Going up and showing a demo or slides is all well and good, but how do I adapt it to my organization? How much does it cost to implement?”
  • The one attendee I spoke with who actually was looking into a cloud strategy was a fellow named Aaron Cooper, a systems management solutions architect at the Royal Bank of Canada. He said his organization is in the process of a data center move, and the cloud could very well play a role for them. He said the main challenges he sees involve finding the time to plan things out and developing an implementation strategy with zero downtime.

    Cooper said the key to really reaping the cost benefits of cloud computing requires a great amount of vision. He added that anyone considering a move to the cloud should actually have a “visoneering team” on hand to plan things out, stay on top of the latest technologies and figure out how they will work best for the organization. “Visioneering is kind of my word, so make sure you credit me for that,” he said with a smile. No problem Mr. Cooper, consider yourself credited!

  • Another topic that turned some heads during the Tuesday keynote was the concept of long-distance live migration. This was sort of buried under all the cloud talk, but it basically involves traditional live migration, only applying it offsite from data center to data center (with zero downtime). Microsoft president of server and tools business Bob Muglia said the company is providing this capability through a partnership with Hewlett-Packard.
  • I didn’t speak with a lot of vendors at the show, but I did talk a little with the folks at Veeam. They just announced an update for their nworks product which basically helps users monitor and manage VMware machines using System Center Operations Manager 2007 and Virtual Machine Manager 2008 in the same way they would with machines running on Microsoft Hyper-V. Another win for heterogeneity.
  • Finally, lots of RTM announcements went down last week as well. In case you missed it, System Center Data Protection Manager 2010, System Center Essentials, and (finally) Service Manager 2010 were released to manufacturing. The beta for Configuration Manager 2007 R3 was also made available.

    I sat down with Robert Reynolds, Microsoft director of product planning for System Center, to get the details on what’s new with all these releases and more (including VMM 2008 R2 and how the Opalis acquisition fits into everything). He also talks a good deal about Microsoft’s overall cloud strategy, echoing much of what Muglia talked about during his keynote.

For more information on Microsoft System Center and other systems management products, visit

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You didn't speak with the vendors? Just hung out at the Veeam booth? Did you catch the concept in Muglia's speech that Microsoft only wants to host your data, i.e., SQL Server? I'm sorry -- there's a lot of generalizations here. MMS 2010 was a long week with a lot of opportunity to connect with the community.