Last week we attended the Microsoft Management Summit in Las Vegas (MMS 2012), and by all accounts the conference was a success. This year there were around 5300 attendees, over 160 sessions and 5 technical tracks. There were announcements, new technologies, a great deal of technical content and a host of companies whose products help simplify IT systems management. In this post I’m going to attempt to summarize some of the key points and takeaways as well as let you in on the major announcements.
The Private Cloud
As I mentioned in a previous post, the overall theme centered on the cloud, and more noticeably, the private cloud. At MMS 2012 Microsoft formally announced System Center 2012 general availability, and highlighted some of the new features that they hope will make it the center piece of your systems management strategy. Part of the shift in strategy includes the ability to manage not only your Microsoft based private cloud systems, but also systems based on VMware and Zen. In this manner System Manager 2012 has been realigned to allow data center engineers and managers the ability to approach their managed systems from a private cloud standpoint and consider resources as a pool.
Consumerization of IT
One of the key concepts at MMS 2012 and the keynotes was the idea of the Consumerization of IT. In the keynote on the second day Brad Anderson, Corporate VP of Management and Security pointed out that the Consumerization of IT has meant that IT users are increasingly accessing company data and systems from non-company provided devices. In his keynote Anderson announced the availability of public beta for Windows Intune which allows administrators the ability to manage IOS and Android app deployment and provide access through a company portal. In addition active directory accounts and groups can now be synchronized for simpler management. Overall, this release will allow businesses to manage PC’s and mobile devices from a single platform, thus keeping costs lower.
Additionally Microsoft introduced a new technology, UE-V which will be available in a future version of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack for Software Assurance. UE-V, or User Experience Virtualization allows users to have a seamless desktop experience from one device to another. In his demonstration Anderson pulled up an identical instance of his desktop on his Windows 8 tablet almost instantly on a separate machine across the stage. This allows users to have the same personalized experience no matter where they access their information.
The MCSE is Back
As I mentioned previously Microsoft also announced the reintroduction of the MCSE certification with its new focus centered on the private cloud which will focus heavily on the System Center suite of products. The certification starts with the base MCSA which is comprised of exams 640, 642 and 646 which is the same as the MCITP: Server Administrator credential. In order to achieve the MCSE credential there are two additional exams, 246 and 247, which are specific to the private cloud and System Center 2012. These exams were available to MMS attendees at the conference in beta. The new certifications make it clear that the push for private cloud management is a core piece of Microsoft’s strategy.
There were a couple of additional announcements with the first regarding Windows Server 8 and its official release name, Windows Server 2012. At the end of the keynote on the second day, the location for MMS 2013 was announced, New Orleans. The announcement has led to some speculation that MMS and TechEd will be, at the very least, co-located next year. This is a strong possibility as the date is moved as well, from May when it has traditionally been held, to June when TechEd is usually held. It’s an interesting prospect which isn’t unfounded. We’ll find out more in the coming weeks.
There was a lot to get excited about at MMS, new technologies, certifications and a new direction. The Consumerization of IT is clearly having an impact and leading to the need for greater efficiencies in deployment, availability and accessibility. Companies will be challenged to not only deliver services quicker but more consistently and deliver the performance that the “consumers” expect. In order to maintain a high level of expectations greater focus will need to be placed on monitoring and analyzing how a service is delivered, how the users experience it and how we can stay one step ahead of user demands.
Overall the conference made it clear that technologies that manage user experience are becoming increasingly in higher demand. The evolution of the cloud from its roots as basic virtualization to complicated private cloud instances delivering services on demand has highlighted potential weaknesses that quick expansion brings. These weaknesses are often manifested in reliability, performance and availability incidents; having the right tools to monitor, measure and manage user experience can be the difference between a successful deployment and an unsuccessful one. In any cloud deployment be sure to include monitoring and operations as part of the overall project plan.
Did you attend MMS 2012? What are your thoughts?