By now, you may have heard that System Center 2012 has reached GA (General Availability) stage. It's been available for download for a little while, but Microsoft naturally wanted to align the announcement with the Microsoft Management Summit (MMS) that's happening this week.
System Center is, of course, Microsoft's integrated management platform for IT, and one of its fastest growing product lines in business terms. That's no accident, either - management is the single most consistent challenge across IT shops, regardless of size, technologies, and headcount. We've come a long way from the days where Systems Management Server (SMS) was the only Microsoft offering in this regard - and even since the introduction of Microsoft Operations Manager. These products were clunky and limited in contrast to their modern counterparts, System Center Configuration Manager and Operations Manager.
Times have moved on; now the System Center portfolio also covers backup, virtualisation, service delivery, and endpoint protection (antimalware, if you prefer). It's no accident, of course, that these are areas that have tended to be pain points for Windows environments, or that these challenges are common across the vast majority of IT shops. Even more heterogenous environments with other operating environments like Linux and Mac face these challenges, and although System Center isn't necessarily going to fit into strictly non-Microsoft shops, the suite certainly delivers a level of integration and interoperability that makes it fairly compelling for those who do have a significant Windows footprint.
Nowadays, cloud is the universal buzzword, and System Center is no different. You won't hear about 'standalone' infrastructure for the most part - that's 'private cloud'. Hosted services are 'public cloud', and environments that straddle the two are 'hybrid cloud'. It's for this reason that you find System Center 2012 rolled up into a single suite with two technology areas - Cloud and Datacenter Management, and Client Management and Security.
Client Management and Security comprises Configuration Manager 2012, and what was formerly Forefront Endpoint Protection - now System Center Endpoint Protection. Given that FEP/SCEP uses Configuration Manager for its management, deployment, and update capabilities, this certainly has some logic to it. This is the area for management of desktops, mobile devices, and applications. Realistically, of course, configuration management really does apply to servers as well, so this area does tend to cross into Cloud and Datacenter Management anyway .. but the vast majority of ConfigMgr functionality is endpoint-focused.
(Incidentally, I'm told that the correct or preferred acronym for Configuration Manager is, in fact, ConfigMgr, rather than SCCM. There are reasons for this, but I've always tended to use ConfigMgr anyway).
The remainder of the suite sits within Cloud and Datacenter Management. This is where Operations Manager, Data Protection Manager, Virtual Machine Manager, App Controller, Service Manager, Orchestrator, and yes- Configuration Manager again - sits. Products like App Controller and Orchestrator roll up Microsoft acquisitions such as App-V and Opalis into 'official' components of the suite, while the remainder are 'from scratch' developments. Mobile Device Manager has essentially been rolled into Configuration Manger.
While I'm not going to run down each product within this article, it's of note that Microsoft will no longer license them individually. They're now licensed as a complete suite, and this is based entirely on endpoint licenses and "Managed Operating System Environments". Licensing can be one of the most confusing aspects of Microsoft products, so I thought I'd summarise how it now works. The short story is as follows;
- Configuration Manager and Virtual Machine Manager are covered by Configuration Manager Client Management Licenses for non-server clients.
- Service Manager, Operations Manager, Data Protection Manager, and Orchestrator are covered by Client Management Suite Client Management Licenses for non-server clients.
- All products are covered by System Center 2012 Server Management Licenses, based on a CPU count, for server clients
- Endpoint Protection also requires a subscription
Server Client Licensing
- Server Management Licenses cover up to 2 physical processors. Servers with more than 2 physical processors consume multiple ML's.
- Managed Operating System Environments (MOSEs) cover physical servers and virtualisation. The System Center Standard and Datacenter suites differentiate on MOSEs.
- Standard allows for 2 MOSEs. Datacenter allows for Unlimited MOSEs.
- A Standard license would allow a 2 CPU physical server hosting 1 virtual server to consume 1 Management License.
- A Standard license would require a 2 CPU physical server hosting 2 or 3 virtual servers to consume 2 Management Licenses.
- A Standard license would require a 4 CPU physical server hosting 1, 2, or 3 virtual servers to consume 2 Management Licenses.
- 8 CPUs would require 4 Management Licenses, but allow for 7 virtual servers, with Standard licensing.
- A Datacenter license will make CPU count the only consideration - so a 2 CPU server consumes 1 ML, 4 CPU consumes 2 ML, and so on.
- So in the example of 4 CPUs, a flat 2 MLs are required, with no restrictions on the number of virtual servers, and 8 CPUs would require 4 MLs
- There is "Step up" licensing available to move from Standard to Enterprise suites for Server Management Licenses
Core and Enterprise CAL Suites
The Core and Enterprise CAL Suites are generally good ways to save on licensing components. Unfortunately I've seen plenty of IT departments who aren't aware of the value or saving that they can provide. One of the key offerings of CoreCAL and ECAL is in the System Center area. For System Center 2012, the following applies;
- Configuration Manager Client Management Licenses (Configuration Manager, Endpoint Protection, Virtual Machine Manager), and the subscription are included in the Core CAL Suite
- In addition to this, Client Management Suite Client ML (all other System Center products) are included the Enterprise CAL Suite
- For both suites, you will still need to purchase the appropriate Server Management Licenses for your Server clients.
- There is no "Server License" to run management servers- you only license endpoints being managed. This includes SQL licensing for management servers.
Although I've summarised most of the key licensing points, there is still the question of how licensing transitions to the new suite. Rather than trying to pick out each individual migration scenario, I'll point you to the licensing data sheet here: System Center 2012 Licensing Datasheet
I hope to do some more posts on System Center 2012, and particularly Data Protection Manager, shortly, but hopefully this helps to understand how the new suites work, and what you get from each license component. There's a lot of value to System Center, and having the entire suite at your fingertips could be terrific, and should present a level of cost saving over the old model. I'd be interested to know what people think though!
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