As I type this I am working hard with Simon to prepare for our next wave of IT Camps specifically the new camps on System Center 2012 sp1.  Having just completed the five exams of MCSE Private Cloud I am now having to readjust to how much is different as a result of this service pack coming out.  The key change is that System Center has had to change to run on and support Windows Server 2012 for example:

  • Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) has to support all of the new stuff in Hyper –V so Shared Nothing and Storage Migration plus all the changes to all the performance limits such as the number of cores.  Virtual Networks aren’t obvious in Windows Server 2012 (they  can only be referenced from Powershell), but they show up really will in the network diagrams in VMM.  VMM also has to understand the other parts of Server 2012 e.g.  virtual machines can now be run form SMB shares , NIC teaming, and the new standards based storage management (SMI-S)
  • Operations manager has to be able to monitor the new version of server, and track the health of these new features, for example 360 health of .Net applications, storage health, IIS 8 health and so on.
  • Data Protection needs to be able to understand and work with deduplication as well as the new REFS file system as does any backup provider.

System Center 2012 can now run on SQL Server 2012, which in its Enterprise edition provides availability groups to protect your key System Center data.  There’s also the capability to do some really clever business intelligence in this release with Office 2013 to help you understand and predict demand in a large datacentre and better respond to the rhythms of your business.

Then there are individual enhancements to each component of the suite..

  • Orchestrator gets a new integration pack for Exchange so you can easily setup Runbooks to automate that part of your fabric.
  • Operations Manager has better support for more flavours of Linux e.g. Oracle, Debian & Ubuntu.
  • Configuration Manager has also undergone a lot of changes to fully manage Windows 8 in the enterprise, for example side-loading modern applications, windows to go support and BitLocker configuration.  It’s also important to remember that config manager can also manage Server 2012 and set such things as desired configuration baselines.
  • Service Manager introduces chargeback, one of the key pillars of a private cloud, and essential if you want to benchmark your IT department against third party service providers.
  • Virtual Machine Manager will now manage up to Vmware VSphere5.1 and Citrix XenServer 6.0.

Finally each component has better integration with the others and so there is a general sharpening of the whole suite.  So that is quite a lot of stuff for a service pack and would easily take a day to go through assuming like me you are already au fait with System Center 2012. 

I also know that a lot of you have been holding off evaluating or deploying Windows Server 2012 until this service pack was released as you quite rightly want to manage this new version of Windows Server. 

Finally we are on tour with the System Center camps Manchester, Birmingham and York and we have a few places left on each of them so please don’t beat me up in a few months time that we didn’t run these, and please please cancel if you can’t make it as it does allow us to plan and to let others off the shortlist if it does fill up.

If you can’t make it and you want to try System Center sp1 you can get it here.. but note this is just for evaluation you can’t upgrade to the full version or migrate data from this.