Microsoft is touting System Center 2012 as the choice software platform for companies to manage their cloud services.
Using System Center, an organisation can manage its internal private cloud as well as applications and services it is running in public clouds. This hybrid approach where a company may run an application in a public cloud, but retain the corresponding database on a private cloud is increasingly common.
"This is the future of where the cloud landscape is turning into," said Harish Aitharaju, lead for server & tools business, Microsoft Singapore.
The tool, in release candidate version, promises to help users quickly expand their infrastructure and automate the management of their systems. This makes sense for organisations that are looking to turn their desk-bound workers into mobile employees, a trend that is happening in the region now, according to Aitharaju.
"Nearly every organisation we surveyed across the region now recognises that their future IT environment is a hybrid cloud, with the ultimate responsibility for management of service delivery residing with them," said Chris Morris, associate vice president, IDC.
System Center customers in Singapore are first pushing out workloads like Exchange and SharePoint. A local shipping operator running System Center has rolled out Exchange, and is looking at pushing out SQL Server and SharePoint. A Singapore-based investment house with 1,500 users are installing unified communications tool Lync, according to Png Kim Meng, managing director from channel partner Dimension Data Singapore.
Aitharaju added that future workloads such as mobile business intelligence tools will be aimed at supporting the "desk-less" workers.
"The reason why we are seeing adoption of these tools is because they are low hanging fruits from a business productivity perspective," said Png.
One of the biggest selling points of System Center is that it combines eight products into one suite, simplifying licensing. "System Center becomes a very simplified way of acquisition instead of buying different components," said Aitharaju.
There are two iterations, Standard Edition and Data Center Edition. The former is built for non-virtualised environments and can manage up to two operating systems, while the latter is made for virtualised environments and runs an unlimited number of operating systems.
In addition, Microsoft bases its license on a slightly different model than its competitors, he said. Customers pay for System Center 2012 on a per-server basis, rather than a per-virtual machine basis. That can keep costs down for people who are running many virtual machines per server.
Microsoft says that using a tool like System Center can help organisations more efficiently manage their cloud environments. The company typically hears from customers who have full time IT administrators managing 30 to 40 servers. But Microsoft itself, which operates huge data centres to run services like Bing, Azure and Hotmail, finds that each of its IT workers, using System Center 2012, manages as many as 5,000 servers.
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