March 22, 2011, 5:21 PM — If IT shops want to prevent users from going to the cloud, they have to bring the cloud to the users.
That was Microsoft's message to customers Tuesday as the Microsoft Management Summit kicked off with a preview of System Center 2012. When IT shops don't provision services to end users fast enough, Microsoft officials said, the users will get what they want from Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud or perhaps from Windows Azure.
But a private cloud model, enabled by new self-service capabilities in System Center, can make IT delivery so efficient that users won't need to make an end run around IT, Microsoft said.
There are many pieces to Microsoft's overhaul of its management platform, but the key for the user is a project code-named "Concero," a self-service portal for deploying business applications without having to deal with the underlying physical and virtual infrastructure.
Just as Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud and Windows Azure let anyone get the computing and storage capacity they need, Concero lets business users request resources from their IT shops from a Web browser. The users can still access public cloud services like Azure, but they do so in a controlled environment that complies with company policies and regulations.
Demonstrating the new capabilities onstage, product manager Jeremy Winter showed how users can navigate a service catalog published in an internal IT portal to request additional resources -- for example, to boost the storage and CPU allocated to a particular application. They can also view their applications, virtual machines and clouds running both in the internal data center and on Windows Azure, and perform tasks like stopping and starting virtual machines. But while fine-grained control is available to those who want it, Microsoft said its overall goal is to abstract the complexity away.
"It's not about the virtual machines. It's about the applications that run in them," Winter said.