Delivering IT as a Service with Microsoft System Center 2012
Across IT, the landscape is constantly changing. Whether it’s changes to the operating systems, adoption of virtualization, or the implementation of a framework such as Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF) or Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) across your enterprise, there is a steady stream of changes not only to the services provided, but also to the methods that they are provided.
This article is intended to provide an overview of some of the concepts surrounding the development of delivering ITaaS (IT as a Service) in enterprise IT organizations.
What it Means to Deliver IT as a Service
To deliver IT as a service, an IT organization prepares their services to be used by their customers where and when the customer is in charge of the use of the services. To illustrate this, consider the service of installing software on a user’s computer. In a traditional IT service organization, a customer would put in a request from a service desk, and then a ticket would be assigned to either have a configuration manager administrator assign the software to the users, or to a desktop tech to go install the software. By contrast, when an IT organization has provided the delivery of software installations as a service, the end users are able to pick and choose what software is available to them, and install it themselves without error.
The commoditization of IT services in this way reduces errors. The services are automated, reliable, and timely. The customers get to choose when the services are delivered. The customers are never waiting for a help desk ticket to be created, for a technician to get the ticket, or to schedule the service delivery.
Say Goodbye to Traditional PC Lifecycle Management
Traditional IT tools, including Microsoft SCCM, Ghost Solution Suite, and KACE, often require considerable custom configurations by T3 technicians (an expensive and often elusive IT resource) to enable management of a hybrid onsite + remote workforce. In many cases, even with the best resources, organizations are finding that these on-premise tools simply cannot support remote endpoints consistently and reliably due to infrastructure limitations.
Delivering IT as a service reduces errors and increases end user satisfaction.
Using Microsoft System Center 2012 to Deliver IT as a Service (ITaaS)
Microsoft System Center has always been designed to help improve the technical abilities of enterprise IT departments. With the release of Microsoft System Center 2012, they increase the focus not only on the IT professional, but also the end users that those IT professionals support.
With System Center 2012, more services are able to be automated. For example, Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2012 provides a software library that users can access to install software that they need automatically. Any software that a user is licensed for is ready to be installed without the need for a help desk request, a technician, or an installation CD.
Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 includes the ability to manage private clouds. With private cloud management, an end-user such as a SharePoint application owner can provision anything from a new SharePoint application server, database server, or web front end, to new, full-blown installations including multiple preconfigured servers.
This illustration shows the workflow of an IT process being delivered as a service. In this case, a SharePoint application owner administrator request for service is represented in the “self service” column. For this example, we’ll say they’re requesting to increase the RAM in all front end servers, but it could just as easily be something more complex, such as installing a new set of VMs for the installation of a test instance of SharePoint. System Center 2012 handles the request automatically, without a datacenter administrator even knowing about it: the system has already been configured to allow the change to be made.
All of the services, such as software installation and VM provisioning, need to be managed, the processes well thought out, and the automation engineered. However, System Center 2012 does include utilities to help with the development of those services.
All of the different components of System Center do their part to accommodate the request. If you aren’t yet familiar with what all of the System Center 2012 products do, here’s the full list of them and a description of what each one does:
System Center 2012 Component
What it does
App Controller Provides the self-service interface that allows you to configure, deploy, and manage virtual machines and services across both your public and private clouds. Configuration Manager Collects hardware and software inventories for your machines (both physical and virtual). Allows you to deploy operating systems, software applications, and software updates to the computers, and allows remote administration. Data Protection Manager Advanced data protection, backup and restore for all of your Windows servers, desktops, and laptops. Endpoint Protection Antimalware and Antivirus software which contains advanced features when used with Configuration Manager. Operations Manager Flexible infrastructure monitoring that helps maintain the software and hardware available in your computers, datacenters, and both your public and private clouds. Orchestrator Allows you to automate the creation, monitoring, and deployment in your clouds, datacenters, and computers in your environment. Service Manager Provides an IT Framework platform (such as ITIL and MOF) that you can feed your processes into. It allows you to automate the service delivery process for both changes and incidents. Unified Installer The user interface that is used in all System Center products. It provides the common installation point for all of the products, including Microsoft SQL Server 2008. Virtual Machine Manager Manages the virtual machines in your datacenters. It also allows you to abstract your hardware infrastructure into logical private clouds, and manages them.
To continue the example of the SharePoint application owner requesting service, in System Center 2012 terms, they would make their request through App Controller, and then the request makes its way through Service Manager, Orchestrator, and Configuration Manager. The changes are then reflected in the SharePoint servers without anybody having to fulfill this request on behalf of the SharePoint administrators.
In our ever changing world of IT service, it’s a welcome advance that empowers end-users with faster and more reliable service delivery. Microsoft System Center 2012 brings advancements in all aspects of IT, and puts it all together into one family which augments and improves every part of an IT organization.