Yesterday kicked off Microsoft Management Summit (MMS) 2013 with a keynote from Brad Anderson, Microsoft's VP for Windows Server and System Center. The keynote started with pumped up music from a live DJ during a 25 minute delay leaving the crowd wondering with anticipation, are they building up to something big? And then the show started with a big…thump.
The delay? Well that was caused by an Internet outage which was going to make Microsoft's live demos a bit problematic (which also kicked off a series of jokes about availability of the cloud and a solid backup plan. Unfortunately for Microsoft there wasn't a cloud in site in Vegas.). Brad then talked about a big year for Microsoft with the release of Windows Server 2012, Windows 8 and System Center 2012 but spent the remainder of the keynote sharing features and facts that quite frankly we've heard before.
What was the message? Microsoft provides the ability to manage both private and public cloud; Azure is Microsoft's public cloud option that customers should be using (but don't appear to be) more; Microsoft Hyper-V is better than the "other guys" and especially when running Microsoft workloads on Microsoft technologies; Microsoft provides what they call the Cloud OS which includes all of the software tools to create and manage a virtual Datacenter.
Sounds good but I don't know the vision was ever realized in the keynote. While Microsoft provides all of the tools to deploy and manage both public and private clouds, their solution for deploying an Azure like cloud in-house includes software such as System Center, Windows 2012, Hyper-V and SQL Server. Not exactly something that comes from a box. Microsoft has faster performance and availability with Hyper-V in 2012 but when giving an example of how Microsoft was able to run 48,000 mailboxes on a single host with 12 Hyper-V virtual machines, Brad made sure to point out this wasn't supported by Microsoft Exchange best practices so than what is the benefit to being faster and more scalable if it isn't supported?
While yesterday's keynote fell a little flat with Microsoft looking to make something out of nothing in a year following all of their big product releases, the most exciting thing to talk about was right there all along – System Center 2012! System Center provides advanced virtual machine management, integration with storage (including EMC) through SMI-S, datacenter monitoring and management, application packaging and deployment, service manager, and workflow automation all from a single toolset!
While Microsoft wants Hyper-V adoption to grow and challenge "the other guys", hypervisors are still just an infrastructure layer and only a part of a cloud strategy. System Center provides all of the key ingredients to managing and deploying applications in the cloud as well as in the physical Datacenter which for many customers is the simple management layer they have been looking for as they transition into virtualization and eventually the cloud.
And while talking with customers this week, they too are catching on to the value of System Center. Almost every customer I've talked with at MMS told me they have deployed System Center 2012 or plan to in the next few months.
Microsoft should realize that while a high performing hypervisor is good to show you can compete with "the other guys" and while a public cloud offering helps for those customers who have given up on managing their own environment – it is a single easy to use tool to manage everything in the Datacenter that will help customers get closer to the cloud then ever before.