System Center
Intuitive Management for the Private Cloud
John Savill
August 27, 2013

Q. Which components of System Center do I need to manage my private cloud solution?

A. Although the private cloud is not a single “product,” its key foundation is the management infrastructure. For a Microsoft private cloud solution, this management infrastructure is System Center 2012. System Center 2012 consists of a number of components that, in earlier System Center versions, were separate products within the family suite:

  • Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) provides the management of the compute (e.g., Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware ESX, Citrix XenServer), storage (via SMI-S), and network. VMM allows resources to be grouped into clouds, which can then be assigned to tenants (i.e., groups of users that have specific applied quotas). VMM provides key capabilities such as virtual machine (VM) templates, deployment, and physical-to-virtual (P2V) and virtual-to-virtual (V2V) migrations. VMM also allows the patching and deployment of Hyper-V hosts in addition to the full creation and management of Hyper-V clusters. VMM provides service templates that allow you to define, and then easily deploy and update, multi-tiered services.
  • AppController provides a Microsoft Silverlight web portal for interaction with the private clouds that you define in VMM and any public clouds that you host in Windows Azure or hoster partners that leverage SPF.
  • Orchestrator provides an automation and orchestration solution that can interact with almost any system, including VMM and Windows Azure. Orchestrator enables the creation of runbooks to meet any customized requirements, as part of provisioning and ongoing management.
  • Service Manager provides a service catalog for all IT services to end users, including the publishing of Orchestrator runbooks. You can also use Service Manager to define cost sheets for use with virtual resources; these cost sheets can then be used as part of chargeback solutions to business units. Service Manager also provides a full configuration management database (CMDB) for the organization, in addition to request tracking.
  • Data Protection Manager (DPM) enables full protection of the Hyper-V based resources.
  • Operations Manager provides monitoring of the OS, hardware, applications, and more in a proactive fashion, rather than just letting you know when a problem already exists. Operations Manager helps you stop the problem before it affects services.
  • Configuration Manager can help in compliance configuration and patching of environments.

Note that not all components are required, especially not initially. You can start with just VMM and AppController, then over time add Service Manager and Orchestrator. System Center works with ESX and XenServer, although System Center is “better together” with Windows Server and Hyper-V. And of course the product works intuitively with Modern Infrastructure solutions such as the HP Departmental Private Cloud reference architecture.