Microsoft is pushing System Center 2012 as the platform of choice for managing and operating a private cloud infrastructure, making available the release candidate (RC) build of the software on Tuesday.
System Center 2012 is the latest version of Microsoft's management server platform, but this release integrates the eight separate component products into one unified solution for the first time, simplifying installation and deployment, Microsoft said.
The number of editions, or SKUs, has also been dramatically reduced to just two – Standard and Datacenter editions – with the chief difference between them being licensing restrictions.
"It's the same capabilities in both versions, only the number of machines you can manage goes up, with the Datacenter edition allowing for unlimited virtual machines," said Brad Anderson, vice president of Microsoft's Management and Security Division.
This means enterprise customers can continually grow their private cloud deployments in future without additional licensing costs, he added.
A release candidate build means System Center 2012 is feature complete, barring last-minute bug fixes and is ready for customers to begin test deployments.
Anderson explained that one of Microsoft's goals for System Centre 2012 was to apply lessons it learnt from building and operating cloud services inside Microsoft and use these to significantly increase the efficiency of IT professionals around the world.
The System Center 2012 RC is available to download from Microsoft's TechNet site as part of a Private Cloud Evaluation package that includes Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 as an optional download. Many Microsoft private cloud scenarios require this version of Windows, according to the firm.
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