In my last post I mentioned that the key to a private cloud was effective management.  If your organisation has less than 50 server and 500 clients, you’re new best friend could well be System Center Essentials (SCE) 2010.  It’s a subtle blend of the important bits from the individual bigger brother Systems Center products so it can:

  • Manage your virtual machines like you can in System Center Virtual Machine Manager
  • Do basic patching like you can in System Center Configuration Manager
  • Keep an up to date inventory of your software and hardware assets as well as take control of desktops like you can in System Center Operations Manager

..all from one simple to use console.  If you have used windows server over the last few years this three pane interface should look pretty familiar..

sce monitoring

It’s built on SQL Server (2008 or later), so as an ex DBA I am liking that and it will install express (the free one ) at install time. However for larger deployments you will need a licensed (standard) edition, which can either be on the local server or one that you have on another server already. SCE 2010 also uses SQL Server’s reporting services engine for it’s reports and again this can be local or remote. I tested it with SQL Server 2008 R2 and that worked just fine.

One thing that isn’t totally clear in the install is the check for disk size if you elect to install the virtual machine management option.  This extra disk is to store the virtual machine templates, however it might well be that you will run SCE on a virtual machine like I am in which case you’ll probably attach in additional Virtual Hard Disks for this later.  Even though I am running SCE in a virtual machine I can still monitor and manage the physical machine (which is called Hotblack on my demo rig) running the hypervisor..

sce computers

It is this ability to monitor and manage virtual machines be they servers or clients, that differentiates SCE from the new InTune product you might have seen Simon blogging about.  i.e. SCE is specifically designed to manage a private cloud , where InTune is managing the clients that could be connecting to cloud services be they off the shelf applications like BPOS, or your own applications running on Azure.

There’s a trial copy here, or you can get it from TechNet if you have a subscription, or you can wait til later in the week when I will have a couple of videos showing how it works up on TechNet Edge.