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Microsoft pushes System Center 2012 for private cloud, IT pros push back

IT pros learned about Microsoft System Center 2012 management suite at MMS this week. But will they take action on a private cloud deployment?

LAS VEGAS -- With the general availability of Microsoft System Center 2012 this week, IT shops now have a simple way to build private clouds -- at least that's the company line.

The systems management suite, when paired with the upcoming version of Windows Server, will help IT shops deploy and manage infrastructure resources including compute, storage and networking as a seamless whole, according to Brad Anderson, corporate vice president in charge of Microsoft’s Management and Security Division, who presented the keynote before 5,000 attendees at the company’s annual Microsoft Management Summit here on Tuesday.

"For the first time (System Center 2012) lets you treat your application and infrastructure separately, and manage all your infrastructure as one cohesive whole,” Anderson said. “It lets you manage down at the service level, not just at the server level, and to do so more simply, choosing which cloud you want to deploy that service in."

Microsoft System Center 2012 for private cloud

Anderson and other Microsoft presenters repeatedly emphasized the close ties System Center 2012 will have with the upcoming Windows Server 8 -- renamed Windows Server 2012 -- in terms of deploying private clouds.  The most important aspect of the name change is it indicates Microsoft plans to deliver the much anticipated server operating system this calendar year and not next.

Anderson encouraged IT professionals to be a bit bolder in deploying private clouds, advising they “really embrace the cloud computing model."

Meanwhile, he acknowledged the nagging fears among many IT pros that establishing a cloud environment is more black art than computer science. He pointed out however that many tools that can be used to build and support the cloud model are similar to what they use today, thereby making the “clouditization of their virtual environments” easier.

While some attendees at Anderson’s keynote liked what they heard about System Center 2012 and Windows Server 2012, most are still not ready for it.

“It is a nice story that was laid out today,” said George Kent, an IT manager of a mid-size insurance company in Chicago. “But honestly, I don’t have the budget or the people right now to make any significant platform-level moves to something like Windows Server (2012) any time soon. I did like the new features though in (System Center 2012) Operations Manager. We’ll be taking a look at that.”

Another attendee echoed that sentiment.

“From what I saw of the System Center and Windows Server demos it looks like they have a more coherent plan in place,” said Bill Hoyt, a systems engineer with a medical researcher in Baltimore. “But it will be another couple of budget cycles before I am ready to layer or integrate some of this with my Unix or Linux infrastructure.”

But some Microsoft customers have made the move to the latest software version and to cloud.

During the keynote, Microsoft highlighted a number of customers that have deployed System Center 2012 and Windows Server with Hyper-V to establish private cloud environments. One was The Walsh Group, a Chicago-based construction company. The company used the private cloud to automate delivery of virtualized servers and applications for its 5,000 employees.

“We are moving beyond virtualization to cloud computing, so we can automate and manage our IT environment as a whole,” said Patrick Wirtz, manager of Technology Innovation at The Walsh Group.

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