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1/15/2012
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Microsoft System Center 2012's Private Cloud Power, Explained

System Center 2012's self-provisioning and other features aim to help enterprises move to a more automated private cloud.

Windows 8 Visual Tour: Microsoft's New Desktop
Windows 8 Visual Tour: Microsoft's New Desktop
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Microsoft's 2012 version of System Center is filled with new features intended to help IT managers stand up private clouds and a new Service Manager application that allows end users to provision their own virtual machines.

Self-service for end users is one of the automated functions that distinguishes a private cloud from just another data center server cluster.

System Center already includes general purpose virtual machine management through its Virtual Machine Manager application. But being added to the suite are three new applications: Service Manager, App Controller, and Orchestrator. Their addition brings the total number of System Center applications, now referred to as "components," to eight. The suite was first launched in 2000 with Operations Manager.

[ What should be on Microsoft's to-do list this year? See 5 Moves Microsoft Must Make In 2012. ]

In daylong briefings at Microsoft's Redmond, Wash., campus last week, Microsoft executives explained how they had to expand their concept of System Center to include business "application owners" as well as IT managers in version 2012. In the past, System Center has strictly been for Windows Server administrators and data center managers. Microsoft added a second console after "spending a lot of time understanding the personas in an IT organization," explained Brad Anderson, the corporate VP who supervises System Center development, in an interview at his Redmond office Jan. 12.

The 2012 version offers a data center administrator's console, labeled the "provider" management console, and a second, business application owner's console, dubbed "consumer." A business application's performance can be monitored and tracked through the consumer console.

Said Anderson: "The service consumer is the application owner. Owners are all about agility, all about getting it done and done fast. They will go around [the] data center administrator if [they] can't get it done," turning to an outside infrastructure-as-a-service provider.

The formal announcement of System Center 2012 came Tuesday, as Anderson and Satya Nadella, president of the Server & Tools business unit, held a webcast introducing the new features.

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