System Center 2012 - Importance of Private Clouds within the Education


Last week I had a  number of interesting discussions with Universities in relation to the importance of Private Clouds within the Education and the opportunity which public and private cloud offers institutions IT Services and academics. The opportunities presented are specifically in relation to agility and capability not only from a IT Services perspective but from a curricula adoption perspective, therefore enabling academics and researchers to use modern and appropriate technologies within teaching, learning and research.

You all have Developers/Researchers/Educators in your institution, who need to complete project which require dedicated resources, to generally enable these projects resources are required. these resources are usually the following as a minimum:-

  • A Domain Controller (user accounts, authorization, security, rights and roles)
  • A Database Server (data storage for the apps be developed, reporting data, inventory, sales, etc)
  • A Mail Server (notifications, collaboration)
  • 1-3 Windows 7 Client machines for testing  20 – 100 Windows 7 in a lab situation

To implement these generally requires a significant amount of time and resource, additionally there are a number of key milestones, which add delay and additional cost to each of the projects: 

  • Identifying hardware requirements
  • Ordering the hardware
  • Provisioning the hardware
  • Then delivering to the developers.
  • Installing the hardware with necessary software
  • Securing the software and network connectivity
  • Testing the software and hardware

Therefore the amount of time between the request for resources and delivery of the resources could be weeks or even months. Not to mention that the resources available to undertake this work are limited and that developers are limited on what they can do until the resources arrive. Not very efficient or productive.

Present Day Private/Public Cloud Opportunity 

So the same scenario, Developers/Researchers/Educators in your institution have a project that needs dedicated resources

Same Resources requested for same purpose. Now the IT staff can deliver these resources “on-demand” by selecting capable resources, much of which is virtualized, from a pool or library, and provisioned to those of the needs of the developers. Thus reducing the time between request and delivery to a matter of days or even hours.

Furthermore, resources can be generalised and stored in a library along with scripts to customise the resources. The library can be securely exposed to requestors through a self-service portal. The requesters can be assigned roles that allow a requestor to search through resources or select a pre built VM environment along with customisation scripts to create the environment they need without direct interaction of the IT staff.

The key factor being, you can have as much or as little automation as required for your own needs. Deployment and refresh times can be now reduced from months to hours with minimal staff intervention or support.

The Private/Public Clouds now offer an opportunity to streamline and create agility in IT operations. IT as a Service is now truly available using resources on premise or cloud based hosted resources.. 

With the current shipping versions of System Center products (and previous), we have always had individual products such as System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R3 or System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2. Last week there were some big announcements regarding System Center 2012. Microsoft held a great event called Microsoft Private Cloud Day where changes to System Center 2012 were announced. If you missed the live stream, you can watch it on demand.

As part of the announcements last week we are simplifying this and now and now offering System Center 2012 as a single product suite.

There are two editions, System Center 2012 Datacenter and System Center 2012 Standard.


As you can see from the figure above, both Editions include the same components. Both editions are also licensed per two physical processors. The only difference is the number of Virtual Machines supported per license

  • 2 for Standard
  • Unlimited for Datacenter

If you have a minimal virtualization footprint, the Standard Edition may be just fine (school, department or a smaller faculty for example); if you have a large virtualization footprint (campus) and are looking for high density of VMs, then definitely go with Datacenter edition.

Private/Public Hybrid Cloud

Microsoft is leading the pack in building a global scale public cloud platform (Windows Azure, SQL Azure and Office 365) while also enabling customers to build their own private clouds (using Windows Server and System Center). As customers really start taking advantage of cloud computing methodologies, they have the flexibility of choosing the model that best fits their needs or a combination (Hybrid) and know that the two environments can be managed holistically from one management tool System Center 2012.

Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President of our Management and Security Division wrote a blog post that really does a good job of stating Microsoft’s strategy for cloud computing and how we see public and private clouds coming together.

Additionally the on-demand webcast from last weeks event solidifies the Microsoft Private Cloud story using Windows Servers, Hyper-V virtualization, and the System Center 2012 Suite this was presented by Microsoft’s Server & Tools “Transforming IT with Microsoft Private Cloud” 

You can start working with Microsoft Private Cloud solutions now.


Download the Release Candidate of the System Center 2012 Suite

Additional resources for more information on Private Clouds and System Center 2012

The Official Microsoft Blog - System Center 2012: Where Public and Private Clouds Meet

System Center 2012 – Product Site 

System Center 2012 – Licensing Datasheet (PDF)

System Center 2012 – Licensing FAQ (PDF)

Enabling & skilling up your IT Support teams – Microsoft Virtual Academy and Microsoft IT Academy

Providing appropriate software to students and educators -  EES + DreamSpark