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System Center 2012 SP1 hits general availability with monitoring tool

Users of System Center now can manage Windows Server 2012 with System Center 2012 SP1. The service pack has virtualization enhancements and more.

System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 is available for download and contains support for the newly released Windows Server 2012 and SQL Server 2012 operating systems.

It also brings a number of bug fixes to the entire suite of system management products.

With System Center 2012 SP1, Virtual Machine Manager, or VMM, can now support up to 8,000 VMs on a cluster of 64 hosts.

These new features -- along with other Hyper-V capabilities in Windows Server 2012 and the ability to deploy Windows 8 on tablet PCs with Configuration Manager -- give customers enough reasons to start building their IT services on these platforms, said Maarten Goet, managing consultant at Netherlands-based INOVATIV, an IT consulting firm.

Microsoft additionally introduced a new product, called the Global Service Monitor (GSM) to the family that now is available in a trial version. It makes it possible to check the performance of an application throughout the world using Windows Azure.

Billed as a "companion product" by Microsoft General Manager Mike Schutz, the monitor can give admins a real-time glimpse of how their users access apps, and allows them to see troubles with an application.

Some IT pros believe GSM for Azure will be extremely useful.

"It's integrated in such a way that Operations Manager admins can now select an "external" [point of presence] to do the Web monitoring remotely and get a perspective from that location; any Azure data center location will work," Goet said. "Given that it's also a free benefit to [Software Assurance] customers, I can certainly see Operations Manager customers quickly adopting this."

System Center 2012 SP1 also offers hosting providers an application programming interface that they can use to give their customers self-service management options.

The company also released a new version of Windows Intune, which, with System Center Configuration Manager, manages the wide variety of devices being used in the enterprise as part of the consumerization of IT. Managing Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, iOS and Android is a big draw for customers, Goet said.

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