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  • System Center 2012 – The future of the IT Admin

    I recently spoke at a fantastic Microsoft conference in Belgium called TechDays. It was their 10th year holding this conference, and as you can imagine, it focused on the new technologies to be released by Microsoft this year. I posted details of the trip and conference on my blog, but I wanted to take a moment to give you some observations not discussed in my blog.

    Most of you that know me are probably expecting the “Learn PowerShell Now!” speech. I am somewhat of a religious fanatic about that. Let me step down from my PowerShell soapbox and take a moment to look at another technology that is already in RC1 and I hope you will start looking at it now. System Center 2012.

    Note that I didn’t use one of the product acronyms you’re familiar with such as SCCM, SCOM, SCDPM, etc. Simply because it no longer matters, not in licensing or management, it’s becoming one product. Yes, it still has each of those individual products you are familiar with; however there have been some additions. There is a reason to start to think of this as one product called System Center rather than the individual components. For IT, I think this is becoming a “platform” for management, not just an isolated bunch of tasks.

    Let’s look at a typical network. Not the individual servers and services, but the living breathing beast known as “The Network” and the types of tasks that need to be performed. Ask yourself these questions about your network.

    • Do you need to deploy servers and software?
    • Do you need to manage client and software configurations?
    • Do you need to monitor the performance and faults on your servers?
    • Do you need to predict load changes and forecast resource deployment?
    • Do you need to have rapid virtualized deployments that elastically handle demand?
    • Do you need disaster recovery of all this?
    • Do you need control over your cloud?
    • Do you need standards, procedures, organization and processes to control all of this?
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    The future IT admin will have a solid management platform solution in place that addresses these questions. I’m betting that System Center is that platform.

    Yes you can still feel the individual components such as SCCM, however the new management screens (GUI) and PowerShell support make it start to feel like everything is linked together in an ensemble of management control. Those once hard edges of each product have become more fluid and cohesive. The reason for this is actually very simple; an admin needs all the information, not just a single technical silo, to make decisions.

    As an example, a sudden drop in customer purchase performance may be the result of slow database requests, not a bottleneck in the web farm. The solution may require server, service, and application deployment, and it must happen “now”, not in a few months. This kind of total system diagnostic and management requires all those System Center components working together with an administrative team that understands how to use them.

    Now, I’m not an expert at System Center 2012 and all the individual components, (there are 8 of them now) but I’m going to become one. The presentations I saw on this version of the product are more than just eye-candy and hopeful-proposition; they are how the Admin job will get accomplished. While the smallest of networks may not see an ROI with this, everyone else certainly will.

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    And yes, it’s managed with PowerShell. (sorry, had to get that in)

    I know that many of us have gotten jaded over the years to the voice of Microsoft and the marketing blitz of the future. I’m certainly one of those, but I don’t think this management platform has anything to do with the Marketing folks at Microsoft. It is our businesses driving this solution.

    Ward Ralston of Microsoft presented the Keynote when I was in Belgium. One of his last call-to-action slides caught me. I didn’t realize the impact of the 2nd bullet until I had seen System Center and spoke to some of the Microsoft folks on the team.

    Microsoft TechDays 2012 Belgium Keynote

    I know it seems I have found another soapbox to get on, (PowerShell, IIS, Exchange) and I’m supposed to be discussing technical things in this blog, but I really see this as a career call to the network admins of the world.

    If you’re an IT “Professional” working with Microsoft technologies, you should seriously consider Ward’s list. The world is changing fast and so are the needs of every business from small to large. Be the person delivering reliable solutions, knowledgeable ideas and professional management. I think System Center 2012 may be part of your plan.

    Knowledge is PowerShell,
    Jason Helmick
    Director of PowerShell Technologies
    Interface Technical Training

    See what people are saying...

    1. Rourou

      One reason you may not able to see the Content and stuurtcre link is that the SharePoint Server Publishing Infrastuurtcre site collection feature is not active. To check if it’s active, perform the following:- Go to Site Actions > Site Settings on your root site- Underneath the Site Collection Administration section (You need to be a site collection administrator to see this section), click on Site collection features .- On this page, look for SharePoint Server Publishing Infrastuurtcre and ensure it’s activated. Hope that helps.

    2. Chad Dixson

      Nice post, Jason.

      Microsoft has a history of frantically bringing a solution to market that is typically half baked….SCxx is no different.  Like other solutions MS has focused on over the years (remember Exchange 5.5 or SharePoint Services 2003) they don't always get it right the first time (or the second time in some cases) but, eventually, they do manage to create a stable, user-friendly solution.  Agreeing with you, System Center is one of those products….MS has created a way for IT to do more with less. 

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