System Center Essentials 2010 isn’t even out of beta yet, and already it’s starting to grow in popularity.  I’m currently sitting through an installation of it inside a Hyper-V R2 VM as we speak, but whilst it’s working away, I thought I’d give you a couple of useful resources to mull over…

Firstly, what is System Center Essentials?  Well, you can get all that info from my previous blog post, along with an overview video.  For those of you’ve who’ve already climbed that rung of the ladder, the next step is to see what others are thinking about it.  First up, there’s a pretty good review of it over on ZDNet Australia.  What I like about this review, is it doesn’t make Essentials out to be something it’s not.  Essentials 2010 has been designed with a couple of key things in mind, the first of which, is to bring simplified, yet comprehensive management, to the small and mid-market size organisations.  The very first paragraph of the review typifies this “IT professionals in medium-sized business face a unique set of challenges. They are often alone or in a very small team and don't have the luxury of saying "That's someone else's department"; they have to do everything IT related. Installing printer drivers, troubleshooting Exchange and making sure all computers have the latest patches are all in a day's work”.  So true!!  Microsoft, just like other organisations, are often guilty of trying to shoe-horn large scale management technologies into small businesses, when frankly, some of the technologies are just too big.  System Center Essentials 2007, and now 2010, aims to rectify that, and provide a compelling case for centralised management for both physical, and virtual workloads.


One thing I did notice in the review, and I’m yet to receive 100% confirmation on this one, is that SCE 2010 supports up to 50 servers (physical or virtual) and 500 client computers, which would be an increase from SCE 2007, which supported 30 servers.  If this is true, this has become an even greater proposition, providing the pricing doesn’t balloon when it’s finally confirmed.

Final things to note (not to say there’s nothing else interesting in the review, but I don’t want to steal it’s thunder!) is that the virtualisation element of SCE 2010 doesn’t manage vCenter from VMware, unlike the full, separate, System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2, plus, in the beta release of SCE 2010, there isn’t the PRO capability unlocked, but this is due to come in the RC build.  I can’t confirm this, as I haven’t yet tested it.

So, that’s the review down, but what about the case study?  How can there be a case study when it hasn’t been released?  Good question, and one I don’t have an answer for!  It’s true though, and here it is!

Seafood Company Raises IT Performance and Security with Unified Management

Taylor Shellfish Farms, a family-owned seafood business for more than 100 years, has 400 employees and worldwide revenues of U.S.$50 million. Because the Washington-based company employs just one person to manage its entire North America IT infrastructure, it sought to convert its IT operation from a largely manual one to a centralized, more automated system. As an early adopter of Microsoft® System Center Essentials 2010 technology, Taylor Shellfish Farms is now proactively monitoring its IT environment and troubleshooting issues from a central location. Software updates and deployments are accelerated through automation, enhancing security, system performance, and employee productivity. When the company implements Windows Server® 2008 with Hyper-V™ virtualization technology in late 2009, it expects to realize even greater efficiencies.”

Sound like your business?  OK, I don’t mean Shellfish, but from a size perspective?  Do you work with customers of this size?  If so, the case study might be worth a read

Update -  Jorge from Taylor Shellfish got in touch, and confirmed that SCE 2010 will in fact support 50 Servers and 500 Clients.  Awesome news!  Taylor Shellfish have also been working with SCE 2010 since June, on the Technical Adoption Program (TAP - more details in the case study) so it's great to see a collaboration, and case study, even for pre-release technology.  Great work guys!

Finally, the VMware compete video.  I hadn’t seen this before, and it’s not too ‘competey’, but it just highlights the value of the SCE platform, and how it stacks up against SKUs like Essentials and Essentials Plus from VMware.  You can watch this video on the SCE homepage.  It’s quite a small video, so the quality isn’t amazing, and it doesn’t delve into too much competitive comparison, but it’s still a useful 5 minutes if you can spare it.