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Cloud & Managed Services

What is Microsoft System Center? A Simple, Straightforward, and Jargon-Free Answer

by Dennis Junk
on December 30, 2013

Microsoft System CenterThe challenge Microsoft designed System Center to address is the ever-increasing complexity of IT management. Employees rely on access not just to desktops in the office but to any number of devices, both in the office and on the road. Information is stored not just in servers on your business’s premises but in far-off cloud datacenters. And the proliferation of business apps used by employees and clients alike, as helpful as each app can be, brings with it the difficult task of making sure everyone has reliable access to the latest versions of the apps they need. In addition to keeping all these devices running properly and keeping all your people properly equipped, your IT staff also has to make sure the environment is secure and protected.

In the past, System Center was a blanket label applied to several different IT management tools. Now, combinations of these tools come packaged together under a “single pane of glass,” which means your administrator can access all the tools through the same console. In much the same way we can open a window on our screens to view an inventory of our files and documents, your IT administrators can use various System Center components to manage each of the devices under their purview, install applications on some, limit access to others, monitor performance and security, create and deploy virtual machines, and perform various other tasks to keep your business’s infrastructure healthy and working at full potential. 

System Center has 8 components falling into three categories: The first is for general management tasks like creating and deploying software. The second is for performance monitoring and security. And the third is for establishing and enforcing best practices and optimized routines. There are several service packs based on various combinations of these components. 

General Infrastructure Management:

Configuration Manager helps your IT administrator keep track of the software on all the devices being used by people in your company. The admin can grant or limit access to programs, set up automatic updates that get pushed out to everyone’s devices, and enforce security policies. Configuration Manager basically lets you see and control who has access to what software on what device. It can be integrated with Windows Intune to manage software hosted in the cloud as well. That way you can deploy and manage software used on mobile devices or by employees in distant offices. 

App Controller gives you a window on all the virtual machines hosted in both your on-site and your cloud datacenters, and it allows you to deploy them to whichever employees or clients need them. App Controller also allows administrators to designate individual employees who can manage applications themselves, granting access to clients or other employees. 

Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) lets you create and deploy virtual machines to your private clouds. VMM can be used with either Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtualization software or VMware’s vSphere. 

Performance Monitoring and Security:

Data Protection Manager (DPM) is a disk-based backup and recovery system that covers all types of data in your infrastructure, from files and documents to virtual machines and applications. 

Operations Manager is a monitoring system that ensures your applications are performing reliably at the highest levels of functioning. You can set Operations Manager to produce reports on a regular timeframe, and you can also set it up to send alerts to the proper people in the event of an issue that needs immediate attention. 

Endpoint Protection allows you to control client access to your company’s software to keep it secure. It also protects your infrastructure from threats like malware. 

Process Automation:

Service Manager is a process automation tool that helps your IT staff adhere to best practices for efficient and timely problem resolutions, software installations or changes, and life cycle management for your assets.

Orchestrator is another tool for automating best practices. It guides you through the creation of what are called “runbooks” to help your IT staff standardize routines to keep your applications and infrastructure operating as efficiently as possible.

As the devices and applications your business uses become ever more numerous and diverse, System Center works to provide your IT administrators a unified window onto every aspect of your computing environment. You get to see and manage what all the devices are equipped with and how they’re being used. You can make sure information gets to where it needs to go while also making sure it doesn’t end up where it doesn’t belong. And you can ensure your employees and your clients are getting the most out of the investments you’ve made in processing tools and applications. 

Feel free to pose any questions you have in the comments section below. Or if you’re interested in learning more details about either the technology of System Center or the licensing agreements you can contact us through our website.Guide to Managed IT Services


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Dennis Junk
I'm Aptera's Content Strategist. I've been writing about tech and marketing for 5 years and have certifications from HubSpot and The Content Marketing Institute. A big science and literature geek, I taught college rhetoric and composition while I was still busy going to school for way too long, earning bachelor's degrees in anthropology and psychology, along with a master's in British and American literature. Look me up on LinkedIn.
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