Four Concurrency Experts Weigh in on the Evolution of Microsoft System Center

Author by Ted Wentzel

Editor’s note: This post brings you four perspectives from Concurrency engineers exploring the evolution of Microsoft System Center as more businesses go to the cloud.  

Understanding the future of Microsoft System Center allows IT professionals to spend budgets wisely, establish or refine cloud-migration plans, and enhance career progress as data center models change. In this four-part blog, Concurrency experts address misunderstandings and misconceptions, as well as encourage IT professionals to embrace opportunities to truly transform not only their data centers but also the way they partner with other departments within their organizations.

How do DevOps, ALM, and Infrastructure as Code fit in?

Contribution from: Duncan Lindquist - Solution Lead, ITSM & Automation 
Regarding code development, the premise of System Center is its auditor and manager functions. You must be able to look at all your code to understand its current state.

From a career perspective, the key message for DevOps professionals is: how important it is to learn how to automate and build infrastructure as code? The days of clicking through screens to manage configurations are coming to an end. Going forward, the work required involves even greater skill—to create and monitor, rather than to implement.

To do this well in an organizational setting means:
  • More rapid build-out and scaling
  • Increased focus on peer review of code and discussions about code
  • Much less instability—both in practice and gauged as acceptable
That’s because collaboration is enabled by more capable tools that minimize the more rote aspects of the DevOps process. Staff time is freed up for higher functions. The need, therefore, is to ensure skill development to embrace those functions wholeheartedly and make the greatest possible impact in an organization.

How does Big Data change monitoring?

Contribution from: Chiyo Odika - Technical Architect
The term Big Data best applies to extremely large volumes of structured and unstructured data, such as might be collected by IoT devices. However, regarding System Center, the key point is not so much the sheer volume or method of collection but rather how the data is consumed.

IT operations must modernize to enable true end-to-end monitoring of data. That means not just on the server size. Datacenter management applications must be able to monitor applications that query Big Data repositories.

The native capabilities in System Center are now getting integrated with newer features in OMS that ties everything together as one truly comprehensive, modern platform.

And yet—it’s not really about the platform so much as the process. The process is what IT professionals must embrace first and foremost if they are seeking to truly partner with other areas of their organizations.

How does workstation management evolve to modern management?

Contributions from: Johnathon Biersack – System Engineer 
Most organizations using System Center Configuration Manager are starting to see a breakdown in the match-up between the management tool and the tools that need to be managed. That’s because more and more of the corporate software getting deployed is SaaS rather than on-premises. Workstation management is now much less about software deployments and much more about ID-based authentication to access corporate resources that are housed on a private or public cloud.

Because business needs are driving this change—think of CRM systems in the cloud, for example—IT must adopt a modern management approach to support the business. From the perspective of supporting the modern worker, the focus is on mobility—and not via VPN.

All this means supporting workflows in which core corporate data exists outside the organization’s castle wall. That’s uncomfortable for many IT professionals. Yet the good news is that ID-based security is more effective than traditional perimeter-based security effort. With the data housed in a Microsoft data center, hackers would have to attack Microsoft itself.

One way to think about the place of System Center in this current landscape is using it to manage everything on-premises while also using a different set of tools to implement modern management to handle all of users’ needs outside the corporate systems. In the Microsoft ecosystem, that especially means embracing Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) even while continuing to use System Center.

How does ITSM fit in, especially for Service Manager customers?

Contributions from: John Hennan – Managing Architect
If you are already using System Center Service Manager in your environment, and it is meeting your needs, by all means continue to use it. Microsoft will likely continue providing bug fixes, feature enhancements, and other support, and you can expect Service Manager to continue integrating with Configuration Manager and Operations Manager.

Service Manager’s newest features will also integrate with OMS. This includes an important one surrounding OMS alerts, in which you can set up the systems to automatically create an incident in Service Manager based on those alerts. That’s a feature people have been wanting for, and it’s a good step forward for it to work natively in OMS and Service Manager.

Moving beyond these tools, though, is important—at least in your road-mapping. Despite some Azure aspects, Service Manager is not a true cloud offering. An increasing number of IT leaders are recognizing that they need a true cloud offering to manage increasingly cloud-based needs.

That’s where ServiceNow comes in. ServiceNow is a third-party product that integrates well with Operations Manager and Configuration manager. It allows incident logging across many platforms, just as Service Manager does. These integrations mean that ServiceNow enables you to keep getting value from existing investments in System Center components.

Now, on the other hand, if you haven’t already deployed Service Manager, you should be looking at ServiceNow or another cloud offering. It’s similar to Service Manager while offering significant additional benefits including handing more complexity with less work required.

With Service Manager, once you get outside the core application itself, you’re primarily dealing with PowerShell and some SQL work. In ServiceNow, on the other hand, the functions are point-and-click, with customizations handled through JavaScript. ServiceNow has more out-of-the-box capabilities than Service Manager.

Bottom line: if you have a Service Manager license you want to make use of—perhaps as part of an all-up System Center license—then by all means continue to get value from it. But if not, the time has come to look to a true cloud-based ITSM approach.
 
Author

Ted Wentzel

Director of Marketing

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