Microsoft Unveils Simplified Licensing Scheme for System Center 2012

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Posted 2012-01-17 Print this article Print

With a new, simplified licensing plan for its System Center 2012, Microsoft is looking to spur the adoption of its private cloud offerings.

If there is one data center problem that cloud computing has obscured more than any other issue, it is licensing. IT managers are finding the licensing surrounding cloud technologies, especially virtualization, have become near impossible to manage. Microsoft, in an effort to spur adoption of its cloud portfolio, is attempting to simplify the licensing scheme for the company's System Center 2012 offering.

While Microsoft had previewed its licensing plan for System Center 2012 to industry insiders, the company officially announced the scheme Jan. 17.

Garth Fort, general manager of Microsoft's Server and Cloud Division, highlighted what was changing and how those changes will accelerate private cloud adoption, as well as demystify the licensing around System Center 2012.

Microsoft is moving toward a model in which just two editions of System Center 2012 will replace the dozens of combinations offered in the past, according to Fort. These two editions will include all the primary elements needed to build private clouds.

The simplification of SKUs and editions proves critical for Microsoft, especially since the company is positioning System Center 2012 as the primary tool for managing both private and public clouds. That simplification comes at a time when Microsoft is rebranding all its on-premises server products as part of its "private cloud" family.

The advantages the new licensing scheme offer include simplification of license management, ease of ordering the correct products for a private cloud implementation, improved software protection and upgrade processes, as well as potential cost savings.

System Center 2012 will be available as two distinct editions. The first is System Center 2012 Standard, which includes two operating systems for physical or lightly virtualized environments, and the second is System Center 2012 Datacenter, which offers unlimited operating systems for highly virtualized private cloud deployments.

Microsoft is offering the "single bundle" concept as a way to simplify its private and public cloud messages and make customers more comfortable with cloud-computing concepts, such as self-service, elasticity and automation.

Fort did not offer a release-to-manufacturing (RTM) or a specific launch date for the final version of the System Center 2012 suite. However, the company is expected to offer more details in April to coincide with its annual Microsoft Management Summit conference.

Both editions of System Center 2012 will contain the same suite of products, which include some new point products:

  • App Controller (code-named Concero): New addition to System Center with the 2012 release. This is an integrated management portal providing IT professionals with a single view of their private and public cloud resources. From App Controller, administrators can deploy and manage services and virtual machines.
  • Orchestrator: Adds workflow automation and third-party integration with the 2012 release. (This is the new branding for the Opalis workflow technology that Microsoft acquired in 2009 and integrated into System Center.)
  • Virtual Machine Manager: With the 2012 release, IT administrators can now manage even more hypervisors from Microsoft, as well as selected third-party providers. This is the part of System Center that adds the long-promised, server app-virtualization capability to Microsoft's cloud offerings.
  • Other point products: They include Operations Manager, Configuration Manager, Data Protection Manager, Service Manager and EndPoint Protector.
About 50 percent of existing System Center customers already buy the full suite of products, which should make upgrading and transitioning to the new editions relatively easy, said Fort. Those customers who only purchased individual components will be offered various incentives and offers to make it less painful for them to buy the whole bundle. Each edition will be licensed based upon physical CPUs and not cores or virtual machines.


Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at

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