The 2012 edition of the Microsoft Management Summit (MMS 2012) is underway this week in Las Vegas. MMS is an annual training and community event where thousands of IT professionals from around the world gather to focus on the computer, application, and user management tools and technologies from Microsoft.
In this MMS conference (the first "MMS" was in 2002), Microsoft set new records for attendance, selling out over 5,500 attendee slots months in advance of the event. This unprecedented demand for knowledge about management solutions from Microsoft could be attributed to the growing understanding by IT pros that public and private cloud-based solutions are the future for business computing.
To deploy and support a private cloud requires many management disciplines: storage, security, networking, and others. Microsoft released today, officially, the System Center 2012 suite of management products that together create the most comprehensive cloud management solution in the industry. If an IT pro chooses to become expert at System Center 2012, they will be able to confidently architect, deploy, support, and optimize the complex data center fabrics into which private clouds are deployed.
Celebrating System Center 2012 Available Now
The Day 1 Keynote presentation on April 17, 2012 marks the official launch of System Center 2012. Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President of the Management and Security Division, led the presentation which included some demos but was more concept-based (i.e., what you can do with a Microsoft private cloud) than product-based (i.e., here is what this particular Microsoft product can do.)
Figure A Microsoft's Brad Anderson announces System Center 2012 general availability.Figure A captures the moment many have been waiting for, the announcement of general availability of System Center 2012, which combines eight formerly independent software products, such as Operations Manager (SCOM) and Configuration Manager (SCCM) into a single product. Among other things, this means that the former license mess of 130 different individual System Center product license types is reduced to just two (2). System Center is easier to purchase, and now so broad in terms of private cloud management features, Brad Anderson was not exaggerating when he said, "What you get from Microsoft is incomparable". Here are some additional highlights from MMS 2012 Day 1 Keynote.
A broken mating ritual and MCSE: ReinventedBrad Anderson explained how pooling of data center resources is a key cloud enabler—and used the evocative metaphor of a "mating" ritual to describe the traditional approach to tying an application to a server. That legacy concept is now "broken" by the cloud model, which provisions capacity for applications before an application owner asks for it, eliminating the scramble to "find a server for the app". Brad shared the success stories of some of the 200 customers already running their businesses on private clouds powered by System Center 2012 in an early adoption program, including Unilever, T. Rowe Price, and Lufthansa. All MMS 2012 attendees received a USB stick in their attendee bag loaded with the entire System Center 2012 suite and a combined installer based on System Center 2012 Orchestrator. Brad called everyone's attention to that USB stick and pronounced it a "private cloud in your pocket". His presentation included the important topic of how Microsoft is going to help IT pros become experts in the Microsoft Private Cloud through a new training and certification track called MSCE: Private Cloud. Since expertise in multiple System Center 2012 components is needed to support the private cloud, it's noteworthy that Microsoft is introducing immediately the educational path needed to make their software solution work.
Are you a service provider or a service consumer?
In the private cloud paradigm, Microsoft envisions two classes of users of the System Center 2012 solution: service providers and service consumers. The service provider is the IT pro that configures the elements of the private cloud into a fabric, such as the Storage Area Network (SAN), the virtualization hosts, and the networks they connect to. The service provider customizes System Center 2012 automation to allow service consumers to request deployment of applications. A service consumer is either another IT pro that is application-focused, or a non-IT pro, such as a developer. These kinds of folks enjoy being abstracted from the infrastructure tasks needed to physically deploy servers and cloud fabrics.
Figure B - Ryan O'Hara creates a cloud resource request using System Center 2012Figure B shows Ryan O'Hara, Senior Director of Program Management for System Center 2012, explaining how he, as the service provider, provisioned the resource request. What was interesting was that these solutions were presented without mentioning specific product titles. Ryan switched between screen views of the System Center 2012 App Controller, Service Manager, and Operations Manager web interfaces, without calling attention to which particular component technology was being viewed.
This terminology usage mirrors what MMS attendees see on the show floor-most Microsoft booths are not labeled with a product name (such as Operations Manager), but rather with a technology task, such as Infrastructure Management. Accomplishing most tasks in the private cloud requires a mix of System Center components, so it makes sense to think about the whole stack holistically.
Deploy a private cloud in 30 Seconds
Microsoft's Vijay Tewari, Principal Group Program Manager, portrayed the Service Consumer in a dialog with Ryan O'Hara, from opposing podiums on either side of the stage. Vijay's application had some performance issues fairly deep in the code, and Ryan was able to identify the root cause quickly using System Center 2012 application monitoring features.Vijay also demonstrated the ability of System Center 2012 to perform bare metal installation of the operating system and hypervisor on new host servers. On his way off stage, Brad interrupted Vijay in what was portrayed as an unscripted moment, with a challenge to deploy a private cloud in 30 seconds. Figure C shows Brad ticking off the seconds while Vijay deployed the cloud. It took about 35 seconds but was successful, like the whole keynote in general. A great start to the biggest MMS in history.
Figure C - Brad Anderson challenges Vijay Tewari to deploy a private cloud in 30 seconds
John Joyner, MCSE, CMSP, MVP Cloud and Datacenter Management, is senior architect at ClearPointe, a cloud provider of systems management services. He is co-author of the "System Center Operations Manager: Unleashed" book series from Sams Publishing, and is developing cloud-based management solutions based on the Microsoft System Center 2012 suite. John is a retired U.S. Navy Lt. Commander 'Surface Warfare Officer', with the subspeciality 'Computer Scientist, Proven'. His tours of duty included Chief of Network Operations for NATO's southern region and network administrator aboard the aircraft carrier USS CARL VINSON (CVN-70).