Leveraging Microsoft's System Center 2012 Suite in the Private Cloud
Ultimately, all large organizations will require the added flexibility and efficiency of the cloud. Initially, the private cloud will be the most obvious choice for enterprises that will not or cannot have their proprietary data in the public cloud. The System Center 2012 suite has come at the right time, allowing Microsoft administrators complete control over their private cloud infrastructures.
As organizations migrate from purely physical servers to virtual environments, the next logical step is to reorganizethe datacenter into a private cloud. The private cloud is best described as a flexible, agile datacenter thatcan adapt quickly to the changing demands of an IT infrastructure and, more importantly, the business that itsupports. With cloud computing the needs of the functional aspects of the business can be met without unproductivedelay.
The public cloud, which Microsoft makes available to applications through its Windows Azure product, presentsa significant failing. The crucial data and applications exist in someone else's datacenter. For some organizationsthat is untenable. In private cloud computing, all of the resources remain in-house. With the easily adaptivemodel provided by System Center 2012 (SC 2012), an enterprise can consume server resources as needed, recyclingunneeded capacity back to the organization where it is available to other applications. The newly releasedSC 2012 provides all the tools that each aspect of the IT environment requires to ensure that the maximumusage of server resources is obtained.
System Center 2012 consists of seven products that will be used to automate the management of a virtualserver environment. It is probably the most significant single release of management software in quite sometime and should revolutionize datacenter management.
In the paper, I will give a brief overview of each of the components in SC 2012, emphasizing what is new andwhat is useful.
Unification of the Suite
In earlier System Center versions, the term System Center was not much more than a label and a logo. Each ofthe servers in the suite had an independent installation and release date. With System Center 2012, Microsofthas designed the products with a unified installer and unified licensing. Each of the products can be installedfrom a single set of interfaces. The suite is uniquely designed to control the datacenter with only two versionsavailable. The Datacenter version will be used for a private cloud deployment. In a lower density environment,the Standard edition is used. The Datacenter version allows for management of an unlimited number of virtualservers. The Standard edition is limited to two operating system environments. Most importantly, Microsoft has retained the per-processor license model, not the per-core model that VMware has adopted. This will result insignificant savings for those deploying the SC 2012 suite, particularly with Hyper-V servers.
App Controller Let's begin our discussion of the individual elements of the System Center 2012 Suite with itsonly entirely new product, App Controller. Some of you may be familiar with the name Concero, which was used in earlier beta versions of this server, gives the owners of applications the ability to manage their deployment. Itconsists of a web-based portal that administrators who are responsible for an application would access to manage deployment. This self-service model would be controlled by delegation by the managers of the App Controllerenvironment. This should ensure the efficient distribution of new business critical applications as well as theirongoing maintenance.
With proper configuration the App Controller will empower the subject matter expert with the tools necessaryto keep the organization functioning smoothly. While it may appear to provide unlimited control to the owner of the application, service templates are used to define and limit what can be done. The App Controller can be usedto provision and manage the private cloud, and it also can be used with Windows Azure-based applications inthe public cloud.
Virtual Machine Manager
For 2012 the System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) becomes the primary centerpiece of the privatecloud solution. While the VMM is primarily aimed at managing Microsoft Hyper-V servers, its standard fabricdesign includes support for VMware and Citrix hypervisors. Like the App Controller, VMM utilizes Service Templateto blueprint the hardware and application infrastructures in managing the virtual servers in the datacenter.There can be dynamic control of the servers without any direct interaction from the System Center OperationsManager (OpsMgr). The VMM provides a very useful graphical view of the server that makes it quite easy for theadministrator to understand exactly what is on each virtual server. Eliminated from the VMM is the self-serviceportal, which has now been moved to the System Center Service Manager. An in-place upgrade from VMM 2010is available with this version.