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.