Partners Guide - System Center


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Partners Guide - System Center

  1. 1. SPECIAL PULLOUT SECTIONPARTNER’S GUIDE TOMICROSOFTSYSTEMCENTER With two new releases for midmarket companies—System Center Essentials 2010 and Data Protection Manager 2010—Microsoft is making more of a channel push than in the past. By Scott Bekker MAY 2010 Redmond Channel Partner 1
  2. 2. R C P F E AT U R E | S Y S T E M C E N T E R I n late April Microsoft released to manufactur- ing two new products in its System Center suite, System Center Essentials 2010 and Data Protection Manager 2010. With the RTMs, Microsoft is making a major effort to reach partners ahead of the products’ general availability. The customers Microsoft had in mind when That’s a marketing move that has been missing from past designing System Center Essentials fit a general releases of the products and from most products in the profile. First, they don’t have a comprehensive and System Center family. integrated IT management solution. The range of systems for the product set is generally between 25 “There are still a lot of partners who are not aware and 400 PCs and between five and 50 servers. The that Essentials is out there,” says David Mills, senior IT department consists of one to five employees, and these are generalists, as opposed to workload product manager, Microsoft. “There’s a lot of noise in specialists. While there’s support in System Center [the management] space.” Mills says that because of the Essentials for some other platforms, the product number of Microsoft partners and the potential midmar- is designed primarily for Microsoft IT shops. Ideal customers for the suite also use the Active Directory ket customers, the opportunity for partners to help those service and Exchange for messaging. They may also customers manage their networks is relatively huge. use SharePoint for collaboration and SQL Server for line-of-business applications. “For the most part, you get around 70 percent to 80 Essentials is a branding term Microsoft tends to use percent of the enterprise product, except for those for midmarket-focused products. They are designed to features that really didn’t make sense for midsize IT,” meet the standard requirements of 50 to 500 PC shops said Jason Buffington, a Microsoft senior technical with limited IT staff, and the products come with slightly product manager, during a webcast with Redmond less functionality than related enterprise products. The Channel Partner magazine in mid-April. Essentials moniker is common to the System Center suite of management products and the security product line. SYSTEM CENTER ESSENTIALS 2010 It also made a brief appearance in the Windows Server The System Center Essentials (SCE) single-console family with the short-lived Windows Essential Business design is meant to allow IT administrators to discover Server, which was a midmarket-focused bundle of serv- devices in their networks, manage virtualization, ers that Microsoft discontinued recently. monitor their systems, manage updates and deploy On the System Center side, the product family software. To help with all those tasks, the product includes four main products for enterprise customers: includes predefined reports, which cover standard- System Center Operations Manager, System Center ized management information, and management Configuration Manager, System Center Virtual packs, which are preloaded and help monitor and Machine Manager and System Center Service Manager. manage common operating system components, System Center Essentials combines functionality from services and applications. all those products and is designed for the midmarket Discovery allows administrators to determine (another SKU called System Center Essentials Plus what computers and groups of computers are on the reaches the low end of the enterprise space). System network, as well as view other devices. Once systems Center Data Protection Manager covers both enterprise are discovered, administrators can run tasks on and midmarket needs. those computers, and also create inventories of the Both System Center Essentials 2010 and System hardware and software on the network. An important Center Data Protection Manager 2010 went into beta in 2010 improvement to the discovery process allows September 2009. They hit the release candidate stage automated discovery to cover only specific and relevant in January 2010, and entered RTM in April. General parts of the network. Users had said they were unable to availability should follow soon. use the automated discovery feature in the past because2 Redmond Channel Partner MAY 2010
  3. 3. “We can help them with the installation and the configuration and get [customers] all ready because we have the it created too much noisy alert activity, such as false reports that licensing limits were experience of doing it in being exceeded. Aside from adding no value, multiple environments, the problem ran counter to the stated goals of SCE (pronounced “ski”), which was to make and we can tailor it to administrators’ lives easier. their environments.” A major investment in the 2010 version Dave Sobel, CEO, Evolve Technologies reflects the industry movement toward virtu- alization. SCE 2010 allows administrators to designate virtual hosts from the consoles and create virtual machines and workloads on those hosts. Capabilities include configuring virtual machines, migrating virtual machines to new host servers, deleting virtual machines and removing a host server. In the webcast, Buffington listed the virtu- alization enhancements as among the most hotly anticipated elements of the release, and a flash poll of partner participants in the webcast rated the virtualization features as the most interesting. Buffington said choosing which third- party virtualization technologies to support in the Essentials 2010 release fit into the usual feature dance among Essentials and its enterprise-focused sibling products. “On almost every part of Essentials, if you compare it with the big brother from our enterprise portfolio, there are a few features that we’ve chosen to withhold either to provide additional value to the enterprise product or places where it didn’t make sense for a midsize IT environment,” Buffington said. “We really focused this product squarely on midsize IT. When we looked at what IT was doing with virtualization, we were not seeing base of the software, and which will help you managePHOTO BY KATHERINE LAMBERT that legacy approach, [or a] broader penetration of the software. [In Essentials] we will just simply help you virtualization. migrate off of [VMware],” he said. “You see a few early adopters using something like “As far as the other platforms out there for virtual- VMware, so we’ve made sure there was a migration ization, you saw even less of those in midsize IT than utility available for that [in Essentials], as opposed to we did of VMware,” Buffington said. For that reason, the full-fledged Virtual Machine Manager product, Microsoft chose not to support Citrix XenServer in SCE which assumes that you might have a long-installed 2010, he said. MAY 2010 Redmond Channel Partner 3
  4. 4. RCPP REDMOND CHANNEL PARTNER PROFILE with the most recent updates from Microsoft and third-party application providers, plus hardware updates and security patches. Often, it can be difficult for them to tell whether all of their machines have the latest updates. • Keeping Track of Assets. Another area where midsize customers have expressed frustration is in accurately tracking what IT assets they have. Often, customers are manually tracking hardware and software inventory in spreadsheets that may Opportunity Knocks: not be up-to-date. This is critical information for inventory reporting and planning purposes. With Selling Management virtual servers becoming prevalent, it’s even more critical to have an automated and integrated way and Virtualization to to track physical and virtual assets. You can help Midsize Businesses them find a more unified, proactive and efficient way of keeping track of hardware and software Zane Adam inventory. General Manager, Virtualization, Microsoft Corp. Microsoft has specifically created a solution designed for midsize IT businesses to more proactively and efficiently manage their Q What does Microsoft consider to be a midsize business? infrastructure in a unified way. A Microsoft defines a “midsize” business as one that typically has 50 to 500 PCs/laptops, and anywhere from 5 to 50 servers. The Microsoft can now deliver reason for this is that it’s where we find IT departments of 1 to 5 IT professionals who do a little bit of everything. These IT professionals the integrated IT management have to effectively deal with the same challenges as larger IT solution our midsize business departments, but they don’t have the luxury of specializing. They customers need to address function more as “generalists” who have to be able to manage the entire IT infrastructure of the company. their challenges. Q What are some of the challenges midsize businesses face in Q How do Microsoft management and IT management? virtualization solutions help your customers A Each of our customers is different. However, based on Microsoft’s better manage their IT infrastructure? numerous customer engagements with midsize businesses, we have A With the introduction of Microsoft System identified some of the most common issues that these customers Center Essentials 2010 and Microsoft System struggle with to effectively manage their IT environments. Typically, Center Data Protection Manager 2010, Microsoft these IT challenges fall into four main categories: can now deliver the integrated IT management • Keeping the IT Infrastructure Up and Running. Typically, IT solution our midsize business customers need to generalists rely on several different “point” solutions that perform address their challenges. tasks such as monitoring critical servers for up/down status, which • Keep IT Infrastructure Up and Running. often forces them into a reactive mode in dealing with server Microsoft solutions provide our customers with a management. The time and cost required to provision a new physical unified view of physical and virtual servers, PCs, server is typically weeks, making it difficult for customers to bring laptops, hardware, software and services running new servers online. They also need to ensure critical business data is in their company’s IT environments. With built-in highly protected and can be quickly restored when necessary. configuration intelligence, monitoring alerts, and • Improving End-User Productivity. Some IT generalists working in expert knowledge to quickly troubleshoot and fix midsize businesses spend a great deal of their time and effort issues before they become big problems, System helping company employees to quickly either remotely or locally Center Essentials enables IT administrators to troubleshoot PC or laptop issues for employees working locally or in move from a reactive to a proactive mode when branch offices. They also are randomly called upon to deploy the managing infrastructure. latest business applications and updates, or investigate database • Lower Costs Through Virtualization. The issues with custom line-of-business applications. These issues can Microsoft management solution for midsize cause lost productivity for the company, especially when the businesses utilizes the Windows Server® Hyper-V™ employee is not local. virtualization platform to enable quick and easy • Keeping up with Security Patches and Updates. A frequent chore consolidation of physical server workloads by for midsize customers is keeping servers, PCs and laptops up-to-date making it easy to create and manage 2 4/12/10 11:46 AM
  5. 5. ADVERTISEMENT environment, using the same tools for both physical and virtual environments. • Deliver IT Business Continuity. Our customers can help their customers deliver business continuity to their organizations by helping ensure that data and services remain highly protected and available. For example, Data Protection Manager enables rapid data and server/client recovery, as well as efficient and reliable failover capabilities. This solution can also extend backup and recovery beyond the customer’s local environment and into the cloud. And, through capabilities like live migration of hosts, this solution provides the ability to dynamically respond to change. I encourage customers to review the following resources and discover how they can help their midsize and small business customers better manage their physical and virtual environments. Help your customers better manage their physical and virtualized environments. Resources • Microsoft System Center Essentials Web site: virtual servers on a single physical machine. These customers can reduce • Microsoft System Center Data Protection costs by consolidating resources through virtualization and unified Manager Web site: microsoft/dpm management, which means they only need a single set of tools to manage • Microsoft System Center Partner Web site: both physical and virtual resources. • Consolidate Servers with Virtualization. Pointing our customers to solutions/servers/systemcenter server consolidation through virtualization is a great opportunity to help • Microsoft Integrated Virtualization Web site: them cut costs. System Center not only provides our customers with the server consolidation tools they need, but also enables businesses to more • Microsoft Midsize Business Portal: dynamically manage their resources. For example, pooling applications and servers simplifies and speeds an organization’s ability to respond to microsoft-windows-server.aspx new requirements and other important changes. Using Microsoft System • Microsoft Core Infrastructure Web site: Center Essentials 2010—which now includes Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 technology—and Windows Server Hyper-V, customers can virtualization.mspx quickly and easily provision new virtual servers and consolidate multiple • Microsoft Virtualization Partner Portal: server workloads onto a single physical machine. Also, customers can take advantage of live migration and backup and restore protection offered by solutions/productsvirtualization Data Protection Manager 2010 to help improve performance and availability. • Improve End-User Productivity. System Center Essentials enables customers to quickly troubleshoot PC and laptop issues. Alerts identify Current Pricing and Licensing: • Data Protection Manager 2010 performance problems via e-mail, pager or SMS text messages, giving customers the ability and agility to quickly troubleshoot and fix PC and manager/en/us/pricing-licensing.aspx laptop issues before they become big problems. If someone needs an • System Center Essentials 2010 application installed on their PC or laptop, a simple wizard quickly walks them through the process of software deployment to PCs, laptops or pricing-licensing.aspx servers in the user’s network. Even something like the Microsoft Office suite of products can be quickly deployed to an entire company. With System Center Essentials, customers can deploy Microsoft and non-Microsoft applications, drivers, and accurately target software installations. • Keep Systems Up-to-Date. Using Essentials allows your customers to easily control download, configuration and deployment of Microsoft and third-party software and hardware updates from the unified management console. It’s also very easy to quickly check update status and know whether the entire IT department environment is up-to-date and highly secure. In addition, with integrated capabilities, customers can scale their automated deployment and patching across the entire 3 4/12/10 11:46 AM
  6. 6. R C P F E AT U R E | S Y S T E M C E N T E R “For the most part, you get around 70 SYSTEM CENTER DATA PROTECTION MANAGER 2010 percent to 80 percent of the enterprise While System Center Data Protection Manager product, except for those features that (DPM) 2010 includes the enterprise in its target market, the product’s tight focus on backup and really didn’t make sense for midsize IT.” recovery of Windows servers, clients and other Jason Buffington, Senior Technical Product Manager, Microsoft Microsoft servers makes it a better fit for the midmar- ket, where Microsoft IT shops are far more common. That said, the product has evolved a much more Once systems are discovered and virtualized, SCE robust feature set from its original 2006 release. That provides numerous monitoring functions, which repre- version included disk-based replication of files, end- sent the heart of the day-to-day value of the product. user restore capabilities without requiring help desk Administrators can view alerts, create state views, set up assistance, and centralized backup of branch offices. diagram views of the network, manage monitoring data, Microsoft rapidly upgraded the product with another put systems into maintenance mode when necessary release in the 2007 wave of System Center products. and change Group Policy settings. The second version added tape protection to the disk- Another core set of ongoing management functional- based capabilities from 2006. It also added support for ity in SCE is the ability to deploy software packages and Windows application servers and clusters, among other update software. The record Microsoft Patch Tuesday things. Microsoft continued its support for different event in April, along with the out-of-band update in backup media in the 2010 release, by adding cloud March, triggered IT fire drills all over the world as backup and disaster recovery options to the previous administrators rushed to protect systems against nearly disk and tape support. Other new features include more three dozen newly fixed vulnerabilities. advanced Microsoft workloads that are more consistent With SCE in place, administrators can configure the with enterprise requirements, Windows client protec- synchronization frequency with Microsoft Update or tion and better scalability automatically select and apply updates. The combination On the client side, DPM 2010 supports Windows XP, also allows for manual synchronization—but through Windows Vista and Windows 7, and Microsoft supports the single-console of SCE—and the ability to approve or the backup of up to 1,000 clients per DPM server. That decline updates. Should a patch cause a problem, admin- scale is allowed by an approach that backs up user data istrators can also uninstall them from the SCE console. only, rather than backing up the whole machine, such Of no small value when the boss reads headlines about as OSes and common applications. The server also a Microsoft Patch Tuesday is the ability to present him or integrates with local shadow copies for Windows Vista her with a SCE status report on the rollout of Microsoft and Windows 7. A selling point is that no end-user inter- Critical and Security Updates. vention is required by default—allowing administrators While upgrading System Center Essentials for the to be ready for the inevitable calls from users that they 2010 release, Microsoft also worked to give the UI need that local data they never attempted to back up. a look-and-feel that is similar to the ubiquitous and Microsoft servers and technologies that DPM can familiar Microsoft Outlook. back up in intervals as short as every 15 minutes include “One of the big things that was important to Microsoft Exchange Server, SQL Server, the SharePoint family, is, if we’re going to help IT admins do something better Active Directory system state, Dynamics, Virtual Server, than what they’re doing today, let’s not force them to do Hyper-V Server, Windows Server Hyper-V and Windows a lot of new things,” Buffington said. Server file services. DPM is capable of maintaining up to 512 online snapshots for disk-based recovery and can back up to tape or the cloud. For disaster recovery, the system is designed for a direct one-click recovery from off-site and the servers can be chained for additional redundancy. THE PARTNER OPPORTUNITY Microsoft is making more of an effort than usual to encourage partners to take the new System Center products to the market. For example, the company held a Partner Readiness Week for System Center Essentials 2010 in late February. During that week,6 Redmond Channel Partner MAY 2010
  7. 7. Microsoft offered five online training courses about “I really never talk to a small IT shop where they tell SCE 2010 and DPM 2010. me they have so much time and everything is work- Dave Sobel, CEO of Evolve Technologies, which is ing great. Generally those kinds of departments are based in the Washington, D.C., area, is already talking to stressed. They’ve got a lot of demands put on them, customers about the products and sees a lot of opportuni- they’re working with limited resources and they really ties for his Certified Partner firm. are trying to do more with what they’ve got,” Sobel “We can help them with the installation and the said. “When you can give them a tool that simplifies the configuration and get [customers] all ready because management, it becomes really easy for them to look we have the experience of doing it in multiple environ- and say, ‘Yeah, that’s a great investment for us.’ ments, and we can tailor it to their environments,” Sobel “I really don’t find a lot of organizations out there that said during the RCP webcast. “Then we leave them with are saying, ‘It’s all just really easy and well put together. the tools and help them when they need the partner for We have everything that we need to run this environ- escalation on the parts they want assistance with or for ment.’ Often times they really are pushed a lot and the new project work as an add-on.” they’re trying to do more.” So far, Sobel said customers have been interested in having the management pieces that SCE 2010 and DPM NOT FOR MANAGED SERVICES PROVIDERS 2010 provide, particularly the simplified management The most apparent partner opportunities involve of the environment when they want to enable their pointing customers to SCE 2010 and DPM 2010, people to do a little bit more. helping them configure and use the tools, and “What you can do is you can give an organization developing project work later. One area Microsoft that has those IT generalists on-site that are doing that work, you can give them the tools to effectively manage and maintain their The System Center Essentials single-console own environment,” Sobel said. “They get that single dashboard, and they can really design is meant to allow IT administrators to work with their environment. [They use] discover devices in their networks, manage auto discover and really take control of their virtualization, monitor their systems, environment. With the 2010 release, you get both the physical and the virtual pieces.” manage updates and deploy software. “As more and more midmarket organiza- tions are virtualizing, this is a great way for them to keep previously dabbled in with SCE was using the a handle on correct management of all of those moving platform to run the technical side of a managed parts. What we’ve been finding is that this is a great, services provider (MSP) business. But Microsoft has simplified platform to let our customers dig in deep and backed off that emphasis with the 2010 release. manage their environment,” Sobel said. During the webcast, a partner asked Buffington if Customers are in two camps, Sobel said. Some already there was a consolidated console planned for SCE so have management technology that SCE 2010—espe- that it could be used as an MSP solution. cially—could replace or consolidate. Others know they “That is not currently in the plan,” Buffington replied, have problems, but they’re not sure how to solve them. although he added that Microsoft would consider it “In general, most organizations have some kind of again if enough partners asked for the capability. “For management technology. But often that can be a lot of channel partners that have been looking at Essentials management process where they run around and do for awhile, we did have technology that was similar inventory or they’ve got these four or five little tools that to that for Essentials 2007, which we called Remote aren’t really a unified piece. Or they have some Tivoli Operations Manager. That’s not currently in the [2010] and older management tools or they have some of the plan. Again, IT is one of those things where you have to tools that come from the hardware vendors,” Sobel said. focus on what the customer segment needs right now.“They’re really looking for one that’s more robust. I think We’re just not seeing as much of that.” it’s a little bit more greenfield than it is displacement. But Microsoft briefly touted Remote Operations Manager you do find that there are these homegrown mismatches 2007 as a platform for managing agents in client sites. of pieces that are doing the management already.” The product supported up to 2,000 agents on a manage- When he engages with one of those greenfield ment server and up to 530 agents through a gateway customers, Sobel said, very few of them are happy server. The company made some presentations at with their situations and most are open to a new way the Microsoft Management Summit in 2008 and at of handling IT. Microsoft Tech·Ed 2008, and briefly had a homep- MAY 2010 Redmond Channel Partner 7
  8. 8. R C P F E AT U R E | S Y S T E M C E N T E R age for the product on the Microsoft Partner Portal. there are tabs on that alert that take you right to a help However, the official Remote Operations Manager blog page. And it allows you to keep your own company hasn’t been updated since May 2008, and the Partner knowledge base on these issues that are happening Portal page is gone. on your network. There are only three of us in the For his part, Sobel discouraged other partners on IT department. We can see what’s going on among the webinar from approaching SCE 2010 as any type of ourselves without worrying about somebody being out MSP platform. sick or on vacation,” he said. “The intention of System Center Essentials is to be At 250 desktops, 40 servers and three IT professionals, an on-premises solution, managing the environment, Explorer Pipeline is near the upper end of Microsoft’s and local to the environment itself. You’re selling it segmentation charts for customers. on-premises to the customer,” Sobel said. “If you’re an From that perspective, one aspect of SCE 2010 IT provider and you’re reaching into the environment, that Vander Kooi appreciates is the improvements to and logging in and using the product in that way, that automatic discovery. Now that he can set automated certainly is one facet of it. But from a use standpoint, discovery to certain Organizational Units within the the product is intended to be used on-premises by the Active Directory, it’s allowed him to use the feature. people on-site with the environment.” Junk alerts made the feature more trouble than it was worth in the SCE 2007 release. A CUSTOMER’S VIEW While many opportunities are in the greenfield side, customers who already have System Center Of no small value when the boss reads Essentials 2007 may be ripe for an upgrade, as well. SCE has been a key part of the management infra- headlines about a Microsoft Patch structure at Tulsa, Okla.-based Explorer Pipeline since Tuesday is the ability to present him or before the 2007 version came out, and the company her with a SCE status report on is looking forward to several features in the 2010 release, according to Tim Vander Kooi. the rollout of Microsoft Critical and The systems administrator at the fuel transportation Security Updates. company is also a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) on SCE 2007, and Vander Kooi said during the webcast that the centralization of SCE is key. But he’s also comfortable with the upgrade path if “The great thing is that it’s all those things all in his employer grows in employees, number of servers, one place. It just allows us to be so much more proac- complexity or all of the above. tive. We used to know when somebody’s hard drive “Before SCE came out, it was really kind of a no-man’s crashed because they called us and said ‘Our hard land,” Vander Kooi said of the situation of midmarket drive crashed.’ With SCE, now we’re able to see those and smaller IT organizations. “With Essentials, it’s things happen and be proactive before we have issues,” been a great product that’s really helped us tremen- Vander Kooi said. dously. There’s a migration path in place to move into “When you have people’s hard drives about to be filled Operations Manager and Configuration Manager and up, you see it in the SCE console. If a software update Virtual Machine Manager. You can move your business doesn’t get installed correctly, we can contact our end into the enterprise arena without disrupting your envi- users and help them with the problem before they even ronment too much.” • know about it,” he said. Return on investment might be a good selling point, too, judging by Vander Kooi’s experience. Explorer Scott Bekker ( is editor in chief of Pipeline is a distributed company with offices through- Redmond Channel Partner magazine. Jeffrey Schwartz out the Midwest and Southwest. “We used to have to and Lee Pender contributed to this report. pay FedEx to ship [computers with problems]. The greatest part is that you can see all the things in one place and act on it very quickly.” One little-heralded feature that Explorer Pipeline’s GET MORE ONLINE Visit to view the one-hour IT team finds extremely useful is SCE 2010’s built-in webinar referenced in this article, hosted by RCP knowledge base, with its option for companies to add Executive Editor Jeffrey Schwartz. their own specialized notes. “Anytime an alert is fired,8 Redmond Channel Partner MAY 2010