The Jumpstart series of webinars held by Microsoft entered into day 2 with some high spirits and light heartedness as Corey and Symon take the stand to talk about management , with a heavy emphasis on the beta version of System Center Virtual Machine manager 2012. I’d heard a lot of good things about it , not only from some former colleagues who’d had some exposure during TAP programs , but from the community in general , so was really keen to see if it was as good as it promised.


After some general introductions of what kinds of things you can do with the whole system center suite of products ( including , but not limited to Config Manager , Operations Manager , Service Manager & Data Protection Manager )  the topics moved into Automation and scripting. I felt this whole section went down really positively as no matter what flavour of technology we run , we are all driven by the desire to make our day to day lives easier and automate repetitive tasks – it amazes me the number of times recently I’ve seen the “human task schedulers” used and it worries me that its a recipe for something to go seriously wrong. Computers are *really* good at repetitive tasks, humans tend to get bored with it ( if you don’t believe me , go work on a Taiwanese Production line! )  so let the scripts do the work Smile Corey and Symon covered scripting with powershell – process automation with Service manager for for the hard-core nerds , some WMI scripting – I’m the last person in the world to start scripting , but I’m trying to wean myself into powershell as there is no doubt that its a skill with a lot of value. They also covered a product called Opalis ( which I understand its to be known as SCORCH – System Center Orchestrator  : VMware take note – Microsoft are a LOT better at coming up with acronyms; find the person who thought VAAI was a good marketing term and slap them. Hard) Opalis is was a recently acquired product in the Microsoft Portfolio , but it is a really powerful and from what I’ve seen ( on the jumpstart & first hand ) easy to use orchestration tool. I will have to revisit VMware’s Orchestrator again , but its just didn’t seem as user friendly.

Once again the format of slides and demo’s worked well- there was plenty of unscripted interaction around the demo’s which was great and I really enjoyed it … BUT there where periodic nuggets of pure competitive marketing which really set my teeth on edge. Its not going to make you friends with an audience to imply that practices they use regularly are not really a good idea and are in fact pretty stupid. Hyper-V and vSphere are not a full feature parity – we know this so get over it. Hyper-V and the system center suite had plenty of things that they go well in their own right without having to try and convince people that its just as good as VMware all the time.  I know this training is free and it reminds me of a church youth club I used to go to when I was a teenager. Sure you got to hang out and play ping pong , but you did have to listen to a sermon once a week.


Ok enough of a rant and back onto something that is most clearly a positive and that’s the new version of SCVMM. At first glance it really looks like an out of the box solution to run your private cloud – with facilities to provision new hosts and to create a hosted application from a drag and drop ( which in itself isn’t clever ) but being able to design the network , including load balancers and storage ( subject to an SMI-S compliant storage solution ) and deploy application packages into templates , along with the Self service portal really looked like a much more polished solution. I’m still not quite convinced about using SCVMM to manage my hosts , but I could be quite tempted to let it manage my VM’s. I am aiming to built out a test lab and see how far I can get with a hybrid vSphere/SCVMM solution , which I believe could offer the best of both worlds at this time ( until I can get hold of newscale Winking smile ) .


I’m looking forward to the final Day today of the Jumpstart – featuring the Microsoft approach to VDI. If you’d like to attend the jumpstart , you can sign up here or follow my live tweets using the #msjumpstart hashtag on twitter. Previous slide decks are on the blog