In this two part series we’ll give a high level overview of Microsoft’s System Center 2012, with links to each of the in-depth reviews that have been published on 4sysops over the last year and a half. The first part covers the different components and how it’s licensed.
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Paul Schnackenburg

Paul Schnackenburg works part time as an IT teacher as well as running his own business in Australia. He has MCSE, MCT, MCTS and MCITP certifications. Follow his blog TellITasITis.
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Starting in late 2010 here at 4sysops we’ve run a series of reviews of the products in what was to become the recently released System Center 2012 suite. System Center Configuration Manager was first out of the gate, reviewed in October 2010 in an early beta. It must have had the longest public preview version of a product from Microsoft, going through beta 1 and 2, followed by release candidate 1 and 2, before its release together with the rest of the System Center 2012 suite in April 2012.

This was followed by a look at System Center Virtual Machine Manager beta in May 2011, System Center Endpoint Protection in June 2011 and then by System Center Operations Manager in December 2011. Rounding off the series was System Center Data Protection Manager in February and SC Orchestrator in April 2012.

In this series of posts we’ll give a high level overview of the entire suite now that it’s officially released, along with a look at the products we haven’t covered so far, System Center App Controller and System Center Service Manager. The purpose is to give a single place to find a good introduction to what the System Center 2012 suite is; what each component does, as well as provide more in-depth information in each technical review.

Overview of System Center 2012 ^

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months you’ll know that Microsoft finally released its suite of programs for deploying, managing, monitoring, operating, automating and orchestrating the IT infrastructure of medium to large businesses on the 17th of April 2012. Volume licensing customers could download the final products on the 1st of April, General Availability was on the 17th of April.

The other news was that rather than selling the suite as separate products, with separate licensing arrangements, as was the case with the earlier set of products, System Center 2012 is only sold as a single unit (see licensing below). The component products in the System Center 2012 suite are:

It’s worth mentioning that System Center Advisor, a cloud based service that we reviewed in June 2011 is not part of the System Center 2012 suite and can only be used by companies that are covered by Software Assurance agreements for the servers they need to monitor.

Licensing of System Center 2012 ^

The management licenses for System Center 2012 come in two flavors: Standard and Datacenter. The former is designed for lightly or non-virtualized private cloud workloads whereas the latter comes with unlimited Operating System Environments (OSE) for high density virtualization. So you only buy licenses for the servers you’re going to configure (System Center Configuration Manager), monitor (Operations Manager), protect (Data Protection Manager) and so forth, the actual System Center server’s themselves don’t need separate licensing. Both versions include all products in the System Center 2012 suite.

Let’s start with Standard, this gives you two physical processors and up to two OSEs. If you have a virtualization host (running nothing but the virtualization software and applicable agents) with one or two CPUs you can have up to two VMs running (and managed by System Center 2012) on that host covered by one license. If you want four VMs you’ll have to allocate two Standard licenses. Datacenter on the other hand gives you unlimited amounts of OSEs on the one box and two physical CPUs. So if you have a quad CPU system you’ll need two Datacenter licenses which will cover an unlimited amount of VMs. Both System Center 2012 license versions include a runtime license of SQL Server to host the applicable databases. In case you’re curious, the break-even point between Standard and Datacenter is seven VMs on a host.

There’s also client licensing for non-server OSs in a few different flavors, depending on what you want to do on the clients (Endpoint Protection only; Configuration Manager and Virtual Machine Manager clients only or Service Manager, Operations Manager, Data Protection Manager and Orchestrator consoles).

Businesses with older versions of System Center products are offered (fairly generous) upgrade paths to the new model. The Estimated Retail Price in USD of Standard is $1,323 and Datacenter is $3,607.

More information regarding the System Center 2012 license can be had here.

In the next part of this two part overview of Microsoft’s System Center 2012 we’ll look more closely at each component, including the new Unified Installer.

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