Many organizations have a strong Microsoft presence in their on-premises data centers, running Microsoft Windows Server, client operating systems, and Microsoft SQL Server. However, while cloud adoption has progressed rapidly, many organizations maintain a hybrid presence. As a result, they still need to manage, configure, and operationalize their on-premises environments at scale using modern tools. For data center management, especially for on-premises environments, a product quickly comes to mind – Microsoft System Center. Recently, Microsoft announced the release of the next iteration of the product line, System Center 2022. So what is Microsoft System Center, what products does it include, and what new features are found in System Center 2022?

What is Microsoft System Center?

First released back in 2008, Microsoft System Center is a holistic solution that delivers data center management across many different types of infrastructure and applications and has been a tool of choice for many businesses managing their enterprise data center. Rather than a single product, System Center is a suite of solutions making up the overall solution. So what is included with Microsoft System Center?

  • System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) – SCCM allows organizations to manage their devices, applications, and security across the landscape of their enterprise. IT admins can use SCCM for patch management, software distribution, endpoint protection, and many other configuration and management tasks.
  • System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) – SCOM is everything “operations” related. It includes infrastructure monitoring for your data center and private and public cloud environments with rich real-time management
  • System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) – Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) is used to configure and manage virtualized resources across the enterprise data center, including software-defined networking and even other hypervisors outside of Hyper-V, such as VMware vSphere.
  • Data Protection Manager (DPM) – DPM features robust data protection capabilities allowing backup and recovery of business-critical data with the features needed in the enterprise today, including file backups, virtual machine backups of Hyper-V and VMware vSphere, application-aware backups, and many others

You can think of System Center as Microsoft’s unified management platform born on-premises but now includes very powerful cloud features and capabilities. It contains the features businesses need to manage their critical IT infrastructure and transform operations with DevOps workflows, resource provisioning, configuration, automation, endpoint protection, backup, recovery, etc.

With each new release of Microsoft System Center, Microsoft has continued to bolster the cloud capabilities contained in the management platform. As a result, as we will detail in the new features below, it is the most hybrid cloud-capable System Center released to date. In addition, it bridges the gap between on-premises and hybrid cloud operations by providing the tools and integrations needed for organizations to easily transition to the cloud for those workloads that make sense.

System Center 2022 New Features

The new System Center 2022 represents a new chapter in the System Center product line containing new features and capabilities, allowing organizations to keep pace with today’s technical infrastructure configuration, management, and operational challenges while complimenting their existing investments.

Microsoft has listened to the capabilities customers need for today’s environments. The new features found in System Center 2022 help customers meet the challenge of supporting heterogeneous data centers. Today’s customer environments are broadly diverse and generally include hybrid cloud resources. System Center 2022 strengthens support for the Azure cloud, allowing customers to use even more native Azure resources.

With this release, Microsoft continues to provide the best-in-class management platform for on-premises data centers. However, they also realize the transformation of enterprise data centers, leveraging the cloud.

New features of System Center 2022 include the following:

  • Heterogeneous infrastructure support improvements
  • Enhanced RBAC capabilities in SCOM
  • Microsoft Teams integration with SCOM
  • ITOM compliant alerts closure
  • Improved item-level restore in DPM and increased backup storage
  • Assign IPv4 and IPv6 addresses to SDN VMs

Heterogeneous infrastructure support improvements

System Center provides many enhancements to manage new operating systems and heterogeneous infrastructure. For example, SCOM can now be installed on Windows Server 2022 and can also monitor workloads running on Windows Server 2022. In addition, VMM supports managing Windows Server 2022 Hyper-V support and the installation of DPM 2022. In addition, it allows for protecting workloads running on Windows Server 2022.

Microsoft is committed to supporting Linux environments, and as most have seen, they have embraced Linux support across their products over the past few years. System Center 2022 continues this trend with strong support for Linux built into the solution. System Center 2022 support for Ubuntu 20, Debian 10, and Oracle Linux 8 support in SCOM.

In addition, System Center 2022 expands support to include Azure Stack HCI management with VMM, MABs, and SCOM. Azure Stack HCI is the new hyper-converged solution that runs on-premises but is managed with the Azure control plane. VMM 2022 allows the Azure Stack HCI clusters to be used similarly to managing Windows Server clusters. In addition, it makes adopting the new HCI solution easier without changing internal processes.

Registering Azure Stack HCI clusters using System Center Virtualization ManagerRegistering Azure Stack HCI clusters using System Center Virtualization Manager

SCOM also introduces the Azure Stack HCI management pack, focusing on the capabilities to monitor Azure Stack HCI for Hyper-V, Storage Spaces Direct, SDN, and failover clusters for Azure Stack HCI customers. In addition, the recently released Microsoft Azure Backup Server v3 provides the capability to backup workloads on HCI to the cloud.

Microsoft has added support for managing VMware vSphere 7.0 environments in VMM 2022. In addition, in DPM 2022, support has been added to backup VMware vSphere 7.0 workloads and 6.7 and 6.5 virtual machines. They also now support parallel restores of VMware VMs in DPM 2022.

Enhanced RBAC capabilities in SCOM

In System Center Operations Manager (SCOM, user roles allow assigning permissions to access monitoring data. It also places guardrails to perform various actions. User roles are applied to a group of users and are scoped to a group of monitored objects. Different personas using SCOM need to interact with each other. With the shift to DevOps, the boundaries between personals have shrunk.

SCOM 2022 introduces a new built-in role, “Read-only Administrator.” It provides all the read permissions in SCOM, including reporting. A new delegated administrator profile is also a read-only profile without reporting. There is a new delegated administrator profile. Creating a custom user role has been made simpler with the delegated administrator as the base profile. It then adds a category of permissions, including agent management, notification management, reporting, etc.

Microsoft Teams integration with SCOM

Microsoft Teams adoption has exploded. As a result, many organizations use Microsoft Teams for communication and collaboration in the enterprise and hybrid workforce. SCOM 2022 supports sending notifications to Microsoft Teams, replacing Skype for Business notifications.

ITOM compliant alerts closure

With SCOM 2019, alerts generated by a monitor could not be closed unless the health state of the corresponding monitor is healthy. Therefore, trying to close an alert generated by an unhealthy monitor would generate an error, leading to the alert not being closed. With SCOM 2022, this behavior has been changed with SCOM 2022. IT admins can now choose the alert closure of a health monitor, which is an unhealthy state.

Improved item-level restore in DPM

DPM 2022 removes the requirement of file catalog metadata which was needed to restore individual files and folders from the online recovery points. DPM now uses an ISCSI-based approach for item-level restore by default. Backup and restore times have been improved due to this architecture change. Maximum supported backup storage has been increased to 300 TB.

Dual-stack IPv4 and IPv6 support has been added to VMM

Customers can now assign IPv4 and IPv6 addresses to SDN-managed watcher VMs. This new feature will allow organizations to adopt the new IPv6 architecture for networking.

Wrapping Up

As organizations continue to manage and maintain on-premises data center environments and leverage the power of the cloud, Microsoft System Center 2022 provides an updated tool allowing organizations to embrace hybrid cloud architecture. System Center 2022, including System Center Operations Manager, Data Protection Manager, Configuration Manager, and Virtual Machine Manager, bridges the gaps between resources as the lines blur.

System Center 2022 allows managing and configuring many types of heterogeneous infrastructure. In addition, it has much stronger ties with Azure, including the ability to manage, configure, and operationalize Azure Stack HCI clusters. For customers leveraging VMware vSphere 7, System Center 2022 supports vSphere 7 for VMM and backs up vSphere 7 with DPM 2022.

There is also strong support for Linux workloads in System Center 2022, including Ubuntu, Debian, and Oracle Linux distributions. Microsoft is also committed to embracing the new types of communication platforms organizations are using today, including Microsoft Teams. The new Microsoft Teams support found in System Center 2022 replaces Skype for Business for notifications.

Overall, System Center 2022 is a solid release, including many needed upgrades and feature enhancements from previous System Center versions. It will allow companies to utilize existing investments and workflows using System Center and embrace the new trends and technologies leveraging the Azure cloud.

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