Systems Center 2012 combines eight data centre products. Why licensing provisions might be the key differentiator

Microsoft announces private cloud solution

Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft Corp. has entered the private cloud arena, announcing two solutions for enterprise, replacing eight different existing data centre products.

Satya Nadella, president of server and tools business at Microsoft, said the move is meant to simplify acquiring the amount of cloud resources you need and having the ability to move that data between public and private cloud. “We want to be able to move a virtual machine from public to private,” he said. “We want to take one application and split it, data in public cloud and maybe (other things) in the private.”

Nadella believes that putting all of your data centre needs into one product, Systems Center 2012, makes it easier to manage. “The notion of having a single pane of glass for organizing your infrastructure (is appealing),” he said. “We’ve learned a lot by running our own clouds.”

Nadella said that Microsoft’s experiences with Xbox Live and Bing have helped it create a better private cloud solution.

John Sloan, lead research analyst at London-Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group Inc., said Microsoft’s offering is not without merit, particularly as it’s priced agressively against market-leading VMWare’s offerings. But Microsoft is playing catch-up. “VMware has moved into this higher level of management with vCloud,” he said. “Now Microsoft is following with enhanced System Manager features.”

The key differentiator, Sloan thinks, has more to do with the data centre version of Systems Center than the standard. “(The) data centre allows unlimited VMs per physical two-processor node,” he said. “Changes to VMware licensing last year essentially graduate the licensing costs as more VMs, more allocated virtual memory, is added to servers.”

Microsoft management and security division vice-president Brad Anderson also commented on this focus during the announcement Webcast. “Cloud is great virtualization and great management,” he said. “We’re doing it an economic model that is unparalleled in the industry…I want an all you can eat data and virtualization plan.”

Sloan agrees that the management provided by the components, combined to make Systems Center 2012, could be a deciding factor for IT buyers. “Apps are provisioned with necessary resources from aggregated and abstracted infrastructure — virtualization plays a big role here — how well it all comes together depends on the management,” he said. “Where management can be a differentiator is in managing the whole cloud. In this, something like System Center becomes a more differentiating product than Windows.”

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