Microsoft Spills the Beans on SCOM and VMM

As promised yesterday, Microsoft provided a flood of information on System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) vNext and System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) vNext at day 2 of the Microsoft Management Summit in Las Vegas. The theme to note here is that Microsoft seems really focused on extending data center services across the physical, virtual, and cloud environments. Here’s the scoop.

In a blog entry on that very topic, Microsoft System Center Product Marketing Manager Ananthanarayan Sundaram gave a much better overview of the new products than I ever could, so I strongly suggest you take a look if you’re interested in the nitty-gritty. But here’s what stuck out to me.

According to Sundaram, VMM enables users to create private clouds, which lets any data center deploy infrastructure as a service (IaaS) for hosted applications and services. Moreover, it enables federation across clouds, which can securely move workloads between on-premises and public clouds.

For SCOM’s part, Sundaram writes, it adds unified on-premises and cloud monitoring, which lets data centers with hybrid legacy/cloud deployments keep track of everything with what he calls a “single pane of glass.”

Interestingly, his blog entry also mentions the Dynamic Infrastructure Toolkit for System Center, which is an upcoming Windows Server-built product designed to help build private cloud foundations. We’re promised more details in the weeks and months to come, but considering that we’re looking at a 2011 launch date all around, expect a slow trickle.

We probably won’t hear more about System Center from Microsoft this week, but other product announcements are sure to be coming down the pipeline before MMS 2010 wraps up, so watch MSPmentor for more.

We knew Microsoft was planning on putting their ubiquitous Office productivity suite in the cloud alongside the launch of the 2010 version, but I don’t think anyone was expecting this: Microsoft has announced the launch of “Docs,” a Facebook app - also available at docs.com - built on Office 2010 that lets users create, edit, and share documents. Here’s the scoop.

Microsoft issued the introduction to the unexpected cloud move in the most appropriate way possible: a document downloadable from Docs itself. The document explains that Docs and docs.com are the product of Microsoft’s FUSE Labs, which has the mission to explore “future social experiences,” and that it’s using the Web Apps technology at the heart of the upcoming Office Web release.

Much like competitor Google Apps, users can either create their documents, spreadsheets, or presentations on the web or upload them from a local drive. In addition to the expected ability to share the file with a few friends, you can publish it so that the whole world can see it.

Unfortunately, also like Google Apps, you need to open up Microsoft Office to get the full range of editing capabilities, as Docs doesn’t yet support really rich editing.

My favorite part of Docs from the admittedly short time I’ve spent tooling around with it (especially since it’s currently in invite-only beta) is that, when you access it from docs.com, it integrates Facebook content without using their GUI or going overboard with the branding. It looks to be professional and simple and relatively distraction-free.

Google resellers probably shouldn’t worry overmuch about Docs. It doesn’t appear to be a totally mature solution, and the fact that it requires Facebook to operate probably undercuts its business value at least a little. That said, how people react to Docs is going to be a good indicator of how they react to Office Web.

If response is positive, then VARs reselling Office are in a perfect place for a sales pitch. And that goes double if you’re planning on adding hosted Office Web to your portfolio.

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