Microsoft System Center 2012 add-ons ease management issues

Microsoft System Center 2012 contains several add-on products that VARs can use to help customers manage and enhance their Windows system.

Microsoft is augmenting the functionality of Microsoft System Center 2012 by offering a series of free add-ons. VARs can use these additional tools to get otherwise reluctant customers to upgrade.

The add-on tools in Microsoft System Center 2012 include packs for Service Manager, Operations Manager, and Orchestrator. Some of the most valuable add-ons are highlighted here, but there are others that may be of use to some customers in certain environments. The free add-ons enable customization, cloud interoperability and more.

Microsoft System Center Service Manager tools

System Center Service Manager is designed to reduce desktop support costs by providing users with a self-service support experience. By using a self-service portal, users are able to resolve many of the most common support issues on their own without having to place a call to the help desk. Microsoft currently offers these three add-ons:

  • The System Center Service Manager Authoring Tool is essentially a customization tool for creating new management packs or modifying existing process management packs. It also supports the creation and customization of forms and workflows.
  • The System Center Cloud Services Process Pack add-on is similar to the Systems Center Virtual Machine Manager Self-Service Portal. It extends the product to support private clouds. Users can issue capacity requests and provision new virtual machines.
  • The IT Governance Risk and Compliance Process Management Pack is designed to increase visibility into IT operations for the sake of making IT compliance audits easier.

Microsoft System Center Operations Manager

System Center Operations Manager Monitoring is the job of System Center Operations Manager. The software is designed to help administrators to be proactive by alerting them to issues before they become problems.

In addition to the core functionality, Microsoft is offering two add-ons for System Center Operations Manager:

  • The UNIX/Linux Shell Command Template Management Pack add-on allows administrators to build UNIX/Linux management packs for System Center Operations Manager. These custom-built management packs can be used to monitor the execution of shell commands on servers with Unix or Linux agents.
  • The JEE Management Pack is a series of management tools designed to monitor Java Enterprise Edition application servers. The collection of management packs includes support for a number of different vendors, including IBM and Oracle.

Microsoft System Center Orchestrator

System Center Orchestrator is essentially the rebranding of Microsoft’s workflow automation software, Opalis vNext. In addition to the capabilities offered by Opalis vNext, System Center Orchestrator has a new reporting and analysis engine, a Silverlight-based Web console and PowerShell scripting capabilities.

At the present time, Microsoft offers two add-ons for System Center Orchestrator:

  • The Microsoft System Center 2012 Orchestrator Integration Toolkit is a developer tool that allows for the creation of new activities and integration packs. The download does include wizard-based utilities, but there is also a software developer’s kit (SDK) that can be used for more extensive development.
  • The Microsoft System Center 2012 Orchestrator Integration Pack is a collection of integration packs that allow System Center Orchestrator to automate various data center management tasks through System Center products such as Virtual Machine Manager, Operations Manager, Data Protection Manager, Service Manager, and several legacy System Center products.

About the expert
Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a six-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional award for his work with Exchange Server, Windows Server, Internet Information Services, file systems and storage. Posey has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once responsible for the Department of Information Management at Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer, he has written for TechTarget, Microsoft, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and other technology companies. You can visit his website at www.brienposey.com.

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