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How to Become the Conductor of the Cloud Orchestra

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With the availability of Microsoft System Center 2012 the management of the Windows data center environment is about to radically change for the better.

Instead of having to navigate a hodgepodge of related systems management products, Microsoft System Center 2012 is an integrated suite of applications, the most significant of which is arguably an orchestration module based on technology that Microsoft gained when it acquired Opalis Software back in 2009.

The Value of Microsoft System Center 2012describe the image

It’s taken a while for most IT organizations to mature to the point where they can appreciate the value of the Opalis technology, now known as Microsoft System Center 2012 - Orchestrator. As data center environments become more dynamic thanks to the rise of virtualization, IT organizations need a higher level tool for orchestrating the delivery of IT services across Windows Server environments running Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware or Citrix Xen virtual machines. Microsoft System Center 2012 – Orchestrator provides a data bus on which information about runbooks can not only be published and shared, but it also provides the ability to automate those processes by leveraging PowerShell scripts.

In addition, Microsoft System Center 2012 can be used to analyze issues affecting the performance of any runbook. Microsoft has also included 20 integration packs that IT organizations can use to integrate Microsoft’s management platform with third-party products or IT organizations can opt to create their own integration pack to integrate any environment of their choice.

Managing Virtual Workloads

When it comes to cloud computing the ability to manage application workloads running on multiple virtual machines will prove critical. While VMware dominates in terms of production environments managed by internal IT departments, Microsoft Hyper-V in particular is gaining a lot of ground.

Beyond ensuring that IT organizations keep their virtual machine options open in an era where licensing costs are spiraling ever higher, the simple fact of the matter is that IT organizations are soon going to be asked to manage application workloads that will span multiple virtual machine environments that may be running on premise or in a third-party data center.

As the most natural adjunct to the Windows Server operating system, Microsoft System Center 2012 provides a familiar management framework for accomplishing that goal in a way that doesn’t require the overlay of an additional framework that not only requires addition licensing fees, but also someone on staff to master it.

Where once there was 10 physical servers that needed to managed, we’re looking at scenarios where there might only be five physical servers running 25 virtual servers each, resulting in 130 servers of some type that will need to managed by one or two administrators.

The only way to rise to that challenge is to rely more on tools such as Microsoft System Center 2012 that make it possible to automate many of the routine tasks associated with provisioning and managing virtual machines. Otherwise, the only alternative is to rely on custom scripts that invariably don’t scale or keep throwing administers at the problem. Given IT budget constraints the latter approach is simply cost prohibitive.

Take Control with a New Approach

With the advent of virtualization and cloud computing, it’s clear that IT organizations need a new approach to managing IT that leverages IT automation. That obviously has a lot of implications for the role of IT administrators play within their organization. Rather than spending time working on low level IT management tasks, Microsoft System Center 2012 –Orchestrator is designed to allow administrators to concentrate on tasks that are of much higher value to the business. Especially at a time when most business are extremely focused on getting the most bang for the buck out every dollar invested in IT. This can only happen, however, when IT organizations become actual orchestrators of IT services; versus continuing to manage IT systems that are increasingly out of tune with the needs of the business.


 By Ion Gott, Managing Director – Microsoft Platforms – DynTek Services, Inc.