Release: Microsoft System Center 2012 Service Pack 1

Posted by Kenneth van Surksum   |   Saturday, December 15th, 2012   |  

Microsoft has released Service Pack 1 for its private cloud management suite System Center. The news was initially posted at a TechNet forum by a Microsoft employee working in the System Center division, and later was verified by Mary Jo Foley working at ZDNet. General Availability is expected in January 2013.

Service Pack 1 is applicable to System Center 2012 which was released in April this year, mainly provides the support for managing and installation on top of Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8, the OS products which Microsoft released in August this year. In September Microsoft released a public Beta of the Service Pack 1 release.

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System Center 2012 is a suite which contains multiple products, before the release of System Center 2012 these products were sold and licensed separately, but now Microsoft provides the tools in a Suite license only. System Center 2012 contains the following products:

  • Configuration Manager, for IT asset management
  • Operations Manager, for monitoring
  • Service Manager for IT process management
  • Virtual Machine Manager for Virtual Machine management and services deployment
  • Orchestrator for orchestration across the System Center products and 3rd party products
  • Data Protection Manager for Backup and Disaster Recovery
  • App Controller for providing self service management of Microsoft private and public clouds

Besides the support for installing the products on top of Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 and support for Microsoft SQL Server2012 Microsoft also releases some additional functionality in each of the products. All of the changes are detailed in the “What’s new in System Center 2013 SP1” section which can be found on Microsoft TechNet.

Configuration Manager:

  • Clients for Mac, Linux and Unix
  • Windows PowerShell cmdlets
  • Support for installing Windows 8 applications (.appx files) or links to the Windows Store
  • Support for a distribution point hosted on Azure
  • Integration with Windows Intune (Microsofts SaaS equivalent of Configuration Manager)
  • Support for Microsoft Application Virtualization version 5.0 (released in November this year)
  • Integrated the functionality of the former Windows Embedded Device Manager for managing Windows installations containing so called write filters.

Operations Manager:

  • Application Performance Monitoring improvements including Monitoring of Windows Services build on the .NET Framework and Automatic Discovery of ASP.NET, MVC3 and MVC4 Applications
  • Integration with Team Foundation Server
  • Management packs for monitoring Windows Server 2012 and IIS 8
  • Audit Collection Services (ACS) support for Dynamic Access Control
  • Support for monitoring CentOS, Debian and Ubuntu Linux

Service Manager:

  • Chargeback, to apply cloud-based pricing on Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) fabric
  • Improved Operations Manager integration

Virtual Machine Manager:

  • Support for all the new network functionality released in Windows Server 2012 (network virtualization, extensible switch)
  • VHDX Support
  • Support for SMB 3.0 file shares
  • Support for SMS-S CIM-XML and SMP storage providers

Orchestrator:

  • Service Provider Foundation (SPF), a web service acting as a intermediary between web-based administration client and server applications, supporting REST-based requests using the OData protocol (more information here)
  • Exchange Administrator and Exchange Users Integration Pack
  • Representational State Transfer (REST) Integration Pack Guide
  • Updated Integration Packs for Active Directory, HP Service Manager, Operations Manager, Virtual Machine Manager and VMware vSphere.

Data Protection Manager:

  • Support for CSV 2.0
  • Hyper-V protection over remote SMB share
  • Support for Hyper-V Live Migration
  • Protection of Windows 8 deduplicated volumes
  • Integration with Windows Azure Online Backup (more info here)
  • Support for protection of SQL Server 2012 DBs using AlwaysOn
  • Support for hosting the DPM database on a stand-alone instance of SQL Server 2012
  • Support for protecting file servers which use the Resilient File System (ReFS)

App Controller:

  • Support to deploy, manage and operate Windows Azure VMs
  • Support for uploading VMs from private to public cloud
  • Support for connecting to a hosting provider using VMM clouds.

As a consultant working daily with the System Center products I want to note the following:

Although Microsoft is providing more and more integration in the System Center products, you can still notice that the products are written by different product teams which still provides obstacles for true integration of all the products.

I also think that especially the Operations Manager and Service Manager products have much to high system requirements, especially if you compare it to similar solutions which are provided by a simple Virtual Appliance which you can download and configure on the fly.

Even though Virtual Machine manager now supports the multi-tenant functionality in Windows Server 2012 and the so called Service Provider Foundation web service, the other products aren’t written for true multi-tenant support, a must-have for Service Providers offering services managed by System Center to customers.

Microsoft is progressing though at building an integrated Private Cloud management suite, in order to this though, Microsoft needs to speed up its release cycles and provide more updates to the product.



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