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Microsoft’s New Cloudware Could Cast a Shadow over VMware

System Center 2012 will put Microsoft squarely in the private cloud business

Microsoft staged a Private Cloud Day Tuesday to herald the coming of System Center 2012 sometime between now and the end of June.

System Center 2012 will put Microsoft squarely in the private cloud business and put VMware's teeth on edge because it's cheaper and reportedly has the same bells and whistles as VMware's widgetry.

According to IDC VMware will have to start competing on price.

Once Microsoft's private cloudware is out there it'll have the makings of a hybrid model - which is what most people say they want - governed by the same management tools and offering a consistent view of application performance and data in both environments.

Microsoft, by the way, says it recognizes that users want to consume cloud capacity from a number of partners.

System Center 2012, which is currently at the release candidate stage, is supposed to integrate eight existing pieces of widgetry into a single unified private cloud network management solution that's supposed to streamline installation and reduce the time it takes to deploy.

It will appear in two editions, a standard version and a datacenter version.

Either way the suite will include App Controller, Configuration Manager, Data Protection Manager, Endpoint Protection, Operations Manager, Orchestrator, Service Manager and Virtual Machine Manager. Everything an enterprise could possibly want to build and operate a private cloud. Right now the individual components themselves are either release candidates or still in beta.


Microsoft anticipates selling two kinds of licenses. The ~$1,300 license for the Standard Edition will let the user run two VMs. The pre-discounted $3,600 license for the Datacenter Edition will countenance an unlimited number of VMs. Both editions are licensed per two physical processors.

Microsoft says that because System Center 2012 Datacenter Edition licensing covers unlimited virtual machines, "customers can continually grow their private clouds without additional licensing costs for virtualizing their infrastructure and applications." By charging on a per-server basis rather than a per-virtual machine basis there's no so-called V tax.

The formula of course depends on Windows Server and virtualization software. It manages both physical and virtual resources. However, because Hyper-V only controls maybe 25% of the market - although it's supposed to be growing faster than VMware these days - System Center's new Virtual Machine Manager (currently an RC) will support the house hypervisor as well as VMware, Xen and Azure. It can reportedly combine capacity from all the different virtualizations in a single cloud.

The new Configuration Manager (now an RC) will support a broader range of devices including Windows Phone 7 and widgets running iOS and Android.

The new Orchestrator (also a RC) hooks to the major management tools from HP, IBM, BMC, EMC, CA and VMware.

The core Operations Manager (an RC) provides the centralized single-console management of all the public and private cloud resources. It uses .NET and Java EE for monitoring and diagnostics.

Besides managing across public and private clouds, System Center promises a common identity across public and private clouds; VMs that can move between private and public clouds; and applications that can be split between public and private clouds

Lufthansa Systems, T. Rowe Price and Unilever are already using System Center 2012 to deliver business applications across both private and public clouds. Customers in the early access program are reportedly managing over 100,000 VMs.

Brad Anderson, corporate VP of Microsoft's Management & Security Division, blogged that "The public cloud is now what we call our ‘design point' for how we build software. We design and build for the requirements of the public cloud, such as scale and security, and then bring that value and efficiency to customers to deploy in their own data centers. I do believe this is one of the things that differentiates Microsoft's offerings from others on the market."

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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