System Center Essentials 2010

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Although Microsoft cancelled its midmarket-focused Essential Business Server product line—I was told that customers appreciated the integrated management but not the requirement that they buy three to four servers at a time—it hasn’t lost focus on this small but important part of its customer base. Indeed, with Microsoft’s midmarket customers returning to mainstream Windows Servers and other Microsoft servers, they need good management tools. So, not surprisingly, the software giant is offering a new version of its midmarket management solution, called System Center Essentials 2010. SCE 2010 hits all the midmarket high points, providing automation and central management for the busy IT generalists that keep this market running—and if you’re familiar with the System Center family of products, you’ll understand why this is such a big deal. (Microsoft defines midmarket as mid-sized companies with up to 50 servers and 500 clients.) By the time you read this, the final release of SCE 2010 will have hit the streets on June 1, 2010. Here’s what you get.

Unified management of physical machines and VMs. SCE has always offered a unified management experience, but in SCE 2010 this has been enhanced with virtualization capabilities from Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM), including the ability to manage physical and virtual servers and clients side by side, provisioning abilities, snapshots (which Microsoft calls Checkpoints), physical-to-virtual conversion, conversion from VMware to Hyper-V, machine migration, physical resource optimization, and more. This is the biggest improvement in SCE 2010 by far and represents an aggressive move into the virtualization space for this market segment. (Previously, Microsoft offered a bundle of the separate SCE 2007 SP1 and VMM 2008 tools.)

Monitoring and reporting. SCE’s monitoring capabilities help overworked IT staff in midsized businesses move from a reactive stance to being more proactive, while the reporting capabilities provide a running, high-level view of the health of the environment. The nicest thing about the UI, however, is that all of the status messages are hot links, providing not just information but actionable targets that can help admins fix problems. Embedded videos are attached to some links, helping admins learn on the go without leaving the SCE management environment.

Software deployment and update management. SCE 2010 builds off the deployment and update management capabilities from previous versions. There are many enhancements, and Microsoft offers a third-party catalog so that deployment and update functionality isn’t limited to its software. SCE 2010 offers more granular deployment and update management than before, so you can do things such as target machines that meet certain criteria (like 32-bit versions of Windows XP running particular languages). This is a nice solution for those seeking to deploy complex applications such as Office 2010.

Software and hardware inventory. As with its predecessors, SCE 2010 provides a complete asset inventory system for software and hardware in your environment. This helps with licensing compliance but also provides guidance when you want to upgrade to new OSs or applications. Additionally, while SCE 2007 shipped with a core set of management packs, SCE 2010 streamlines this and offers a more intelligent approach where only those management packs that apply to the software in your environment are surfaced. And unlike before, you can see these relevant new packs in the centralized management console rather than having to check the Microsoft website.

Source of Information : Windows IT Pro June 2010

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