It looks like System Center 2012 is finally on its way to general availability, though Microsoft is still tight-lipped about the exact release date.
What we do know is that the systems management suite was quietly made available to volume-license customers on April 1 (no joke), as reported by ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley. There has been no confirmation about when all users will be able to download the final version of the product, but Microsoft has said to expect more information to be revealed at the Microsoft Management Summit, April 16-20 in Las Vegas.
System Center 2012 features several updated products that build on Microsoft’s private and public cloud strategy – including a revamped Virtual Machine Manager and device management with Configuration Manager. It will be licensed only as a single bundle.
Microsoft announced the Release Candidate version of System Center 2012 in January, and the Community Technology Preview for Windows Server 8 in early March.
Have you downloaded the latest version of System Center 2012? We want to hear from you. Let us know your thoughts in the comments, or find us on Twitter @WindowsTT.
Microsoft sees that a growing number of shops aren’t placing their bets on a singular server deployment style; shops aren’t going just on-premise and they’re not going solely to the cloud. The company detailed a product that would deliver on that hybrid dream so many shops are already opting to go to.
The Microsoft Online Backup Service, now in invite-only beta, backs up server data to Microsoft’s secure cloud (via Microsoft Azure).
Gaurav Gupta, a senior program manager on the cloud backup team at Microsoft, detailed the backup service on the Windows Server blog.
Key features Gupta highlighted included data throttling and encryption — so contents uploaded don’t use up network resources. There’s also the assurance that the data stored in the cloud is verified for its integrity.
It also features block-level incremental backups, which can track changes, so files aren’t being duplicated and using up the precious space.
Admins can also set up backup schedules and set how long Microsoft’s servers can store the data before deleting it.
There are no details about pricing available, but testers can get a beta account with 10 GB of storage available from Microsoft’s website. From there, users can download a backup agent and try out the backups.
Are you trying the backup service? Let us know what you think of it by leaving a comment or find us on Twitter @WindowsTT
Thinking about testing out the new functionality of the Windows Server 8 beta? Microsoft has released two guides to help make those first steps a little easier.
The BranchCache Early Adopters Guide includes step-by-step instructions on deploying the automated local caching feature in either hosted or distributed mode, while the Core Network Guide features the basics on setting up a network and a new Active Directory domain in a new forest.
Check out SearchWindowsServer.com for more on the new features of the Windows Server 8 beta.
One of the most limiting aspects of Server Core on Windows Server 2008 R2 was that there was no way to get from a minimal server option to a full install of the server software. Windows Server 8 intends to answer that problem and hopefully drive down private cloud storage costs.
Microsoft Windows Server partner program manager David Cross outlined some of the benefits of the Server Core installation over the full GUI in a blog post on the Windows Server Blog.
It’s a shift in position for Microsoft: not only is the company rapidly improving the minimal server interface, it recommends admins deploy that option, instead of the GUI-based installation in which the company has long invested.
By using Server Core, “we not only accomplish considerable space savings, reducing storage costs, but we also minimize the attack surface area, thereby also increasing security and reliability,” Cross said.
In the past, it would have been difficult to make a case to adopt it, because there just weren’t enough features. Cross says there are four additional roles over its predecessor, plus the new and improved PowerShell v3 that boasts over 2,300 cmdlets. More importantly, users can easily switch between the two installations.
Cross also highlighted how patching will be different in Windows Server 8. Users can select only to install critical updates, which Cross noted could mean a stretch of 26 months without a reboot. Considering users on GUI systems might be rebooting every month, this is a big difference.
Will you be rushing to use Server Core and the minimal user interface? Let us know what you think in the comments, or on Twitter @WindowsTT.
There are plenty of Hyper-V tools out there to consider, but there’s always room for one more (especially when it’s cheap). IT management software maker SolarWinds released a free Hyper-V Monitor this week.
While it’s not the end-all be-all Hyper-V management tool you may need – SolarWinds also sells a manager billed as a System Center 2012 alternative for almost $3,000 – the Hyper-V Monitor does offer a few typical monitoring features. It can monitor CPU usage, memory and virtual machine stats.
The tool also features an alerting mechanism that can tell you when a server’s performance has dipped.
The Hyper-V monitoring tool – in addition to a VMware monitoring tool that’s been offered for a few years – is available for free (with registration) at SolarWinds’ website.
OpenNebula, an open-source data center virtualization project, delivered Microsoft Hyper-V drivers for its platform last week.
The drivers, as detailed in an OpenNebula blog post, enable support and management of an OpenNebula cloud via Microsoft’s hypervisor, bringing it up to speed with third-party virtualization products already supported on the platform. Then, admins can manage the Hyper-V-based clouds through any number of interfaces, including OpenNebula’s CLI, OpenNebula’s Web interface or other cloud services like Amazon’s EC2 infrastructure.
According to the release notes, VLAN tagging, which is used when VLANs are operationalized across multiple switches, is not yet supported
OpenNebula first released a prototype of Hyper-V support in late October and version 3.2 is the first build considered to be a stable release.
It comes after Microsoft said late last year the company would support Hyper-V clouds being built using the OpenNebula framework. And, Microsoft says it’s committed to openness and supporting open source projects like OpenNebula. The company also supports a similar platform, OpenStack.
On the heels of the Windows Server 8 beta release in late February, Microsoft released the Community Technology Preview of System Center 2012 late last week.
As Steven Bink posted, the preview software allows administrators to evaluate both the server OS and System Center together. Microsoft’s System Center Virtual Machine Manager blog also discussed the CTP’s availability and encouraged testers to send the company feedback about the software.
For Windows Server 8 admins, Microsoft emphasizes System Center Data Protection Manager 2012, which enables protection of VMs on remote SMB shares and Cluster Shared Volumes 2.0. The Data Protection Manager component also includes the ability to protect files on de-duped volumes.
Redmond also wants admins to test out how the Virtual Machine Manager works in concert with Server 8. The company is soliciting feedback on features like live migration, SMB 2.2, Hyper-V virtual network creation and VHDx, the new file format.
As with every preview release, Microsoft cautions not to run the System Center 2012 CTP in a production environment.
It’s said that March comes in like a lion, but this month’s patch bulletin from Microsoft looks more lamb-like.
Among the six fixes to be released on Tuesday, just one is labeled “critical” – a patch that addresses a remote code execution flaw in several Windows systems. Users of Windows Server 2003, 2008, and 2008 R2, as well as Windows 7, Vista, and Windows XP SP 3, will all need to reboot their systems to apply the patch.
Also included will be four “important” patches, two of which will also require a restart of Windows systems (including a denial of service flaw and an elevation of privilege issue affecting all current versions of Windows Server). There is also one moderate patch affecting operating systems after Windows Server 2003 and Windows Vista.
One of the important patches addresses an privilege escalation vulnerability in the Visual Studio development tool; affected versions include VS 2008 SP1, VS 2010 and VS 2010 SP 1.
Keep an eye out for the full report next week, and visit SearchWindowsServer.com for a full rundown of February’s patches.
By the time Windows Server 8 is generally available, you’ll likely be as tired of hearing about it as you are about the Republican primary candidates. But right now, just five days after the beta was released into the wild, everyone’s hungry for analysis – and the pundits are eager to give it. Below are some choice early thoughts about the Windows Server 8 beta from around the web. Get ready to hear about these issues and others hundreds of times over the next several months (when it’s all said and done, “Metro-style interface” might overtake “Romney dog on roof” in terms of search engine results).
- Ars Technica’s Sean Gallagher took the plunge into “check-box hell” to give a blow-by-blow of the wizard-based installation process for Server Manager. Because someone had to do it.
- Samara Lynn at PCMag suggests that most admins will opt out of the Metro-style interface (yes, commenters on every site, you can do that). She also says the sky’s the limit for Server 8 – and by “sky,” she means “compatibility.” If it won’t work within existing Windows infrastructures, it’ll be a tough sell for IT.
- After lauding Server 8’s storage capabilities, ZDNet UK’s Simon Bisson says the cloud-centric OS has something for everyone, “from the smallest home office to the largest international company.” That sounds good, but do one-man shops have the PowerShell knowledge to use it effectively?
- Jonathan Hassell gets his hands dirty with the beta for ComputerWorld, and calls the mixed design “just plain ugly” – you probably won’t be seeing that quote on a Microsoft page anytime soon. On SearchWindowsServer.com, he also ran through the actual new features in the beta that we hadn’t already seen in the developer’s preview, including better Remote Desktop support and improved management of roaming profiles.
Of course, these are just the professional reviews – we’ve seen dozens more reactions on Twitter and elsewhere from admins around the world. What’s your take so far? What can you stand to read more about? Let us know in the comments, or on Twitter @WindowsTT.
See below for our Storify of the Windows 8 launch.
Note: Due to some compatibility issues with Internet Explorer, the Storify might not show up; view it at Storify’s website here.