By the end of the year, System Center, the management console for Windows Server, Hyper-V, and other Microsoft systems, will get an add-on component, System Center Advisor, which automatically collects information on your server configurations, notifies you of known or potential problems, and recommends a best practice alternative.
Windows Server operational information is collected in Microsoft's Azure cloud center. The knowledgebase there will build up a record of different Windows Server configurations and software combinations. Advisor working as part of System Center in your data center feeds information on your configuration into the Azure knowledgebase.
"If Advisor finds a configuration that might be problematic, it will alert you," said Brad Anderson, corporate VP of Microsoft's management and security division in an interview after his summit keynote address.
Information on best practices, bottlenecks, and problem configurations flow into Azure from the Microsoft service organization. "There's nothing else in this world that can deliver the kind of expertise that Advisor can," Anderson added.
Advisor is one of two pieces that Microsoft introduced at the summit to help its customers better manage their data centers and move them toward private cloud computing. However customers choose to configure their Windows Servers, it will have the benefit of the knowledgebase in Azure. "Your cloud has wisdom," he said in the interview.
A second addition to System Center is a portal for self-provisioning users of a private cloud. The portal has been under development with the code name of Concero, and Microsoft has advertised for developers on LinkedIn with the promise that they will be working on "a team that is central to the Server and Tools Business compete strategy with VMware. Together with our sister teams in System Center and Azure we will deliver a world class experience that will shift customers from VMware to Microsoft."
Anderson affirmed the more direct expression of competition. System Center Advisor will give Microsoft a way to differentiate itself from "our primary competitor, VMware." VMware recently added a vCenter Operations console to its management software for managing ESX Server virtual machines in the enterprise or in a VMware-based cloud.
Microsoft's Concero will be able to deploy Hyper-V virtual machines to Windows Servers internally or to the Windows Azure cloud. It was made available as beta software at the summit. It will become part of Virtual Machine Manager, one of the major components of System Center, by the end of the year. It is part of the Virtual Machine Manager 2012 beta code made available at the summit.
The ability to generate virtualized workloads that can be moved around "will result in deployments which are partly on private on-premise clouds based on Virtual Machine Manager and Hyper-V and partly on Windows Azure. In this hybrid world, it is imperative to have a management tool that manages across these environments," said Anderson in a blog on today.
System Center Advisor, will be licensed outside the System Center suite. If you are already under contract for Microsoft Software Assurance on Windows Server, you will get advisor as well, Anderson said.
Amy Barzdukas, manager of server and tools communications, in a separate interview said the two announcements illustrate that System Center's Virtual Machine Manager "is the private cloud builder for enterprise IT."