App Controller–enabling Application Self Service

As announced over on the Server Cloud blog, System Center App Controller 2012 Beta is now available!

App Controller is a new member of the System Center family, and provides a number of capabilities that enable Application Self Service across both Private and Public clouds.  In this post, we will explore these key capabilities.

Before we dive into the details, lets define what we mean by the term ‘application’ and what we mean by a ‘service’.  In a cloud computing model, a service is a deployed instance of an application along with its associated configuration and virtual infrastructure.  So in this context, you will see that we talk about ‘applications’ but we manage them as ‘services’.

Enabling a standardized approach to deploying applications across private and public clouds

Virtual Machine Manager 2012 introduces Service Templates, which provide a way to encapsulating all the components of an application into a consistent and defined template, including the Operating System and associated configuration, networking, compute requirements as well as the application resources and scale requirements.  These Service Templates can be delegated to users for deployment on a schedule that meets there needs in a Self Service model.  The template are also version controlled, allowing for a deployed service to be updated with a newer template.

Windows Azure also operates on a template model, combining an Application Package with an associated Configuration.

App Controller allows a user to view, manage and deploy services to both a Private Cloud (via Virtual Machine Manager) and the Public Windows Azure Cloud in a consistent template driven manner.  As you can see in the screenshot below, at deployment time the user can choose to deploy the service to any cloud they have access to, as well as see the available quota they have left in that cloud.


The two screenshots below show the deployment of an Azure (top) and a VMM service (below).  As you can see, the template diagram and configuration is very similar.  This was a key design goal, to make the deployment of a service consistent regardless of location.



A unified web console to make it easier to manage applications across private and public clouds

App Controller provides the ability to manage services running on-premises Private clouds and in Windows Azure Public clouds.  The user can see all the services that they have access to in a simple, unified view.

In the screenshot below, this user has access to two Private Cloud instances and 3 Windows Azure subscriptions. The user can also see for their Private Clouds what their delegated resource quota utilization is.


The screenshot below shows the view a user has of their running services.


Actions can be performed against the services, including start/stop the service, apply a new template to upgrade the application, or even delete it if the service is being decommissioned.



Manage and Maintain application resources

App Controller provides the user an easy experience to upload, manage and duplicate application resources.  From receiving an updated application the developer on a file share, to duplicating the application between clouds to uploading an Windows Azure application package, App Controller provides a clean and simple management capability for all those application resources.

Duplicating service templates is an easy copy/paste function between private clouds allowing the user to duplicate all content, or map the template component to existing resources that exist in the destination cloud, as shown below.


Manage multiple Windows Azure subscriptions and delegate access to them

App Controller allows you to connect to multiple Windows Azure subscriptions, and then delegate access to them out to users using their Active Directory credentials.  This provides a common access model across the management of both Private and Public Clouds and the services running in them.

Access to Windows Azure subscriptions is delegated on a per-subscription basis, as shown below.


Infrastructure Management, reimagined

And finally, App Controller also provides the ability to manage the individual Virtual Machines that are running within the services that the user has access to.  All the usual management capabilities are there, stopping, starting, mounting an ISO and opening a remote desktop connection and so on.  But we still provide that information in the context of the service, so the user always knows what they are working on.


Calls to Action!

So what do you do now?  Where can you find more information?  Look no further, here is the list of links to all the App Controller related content!

  • Get involved in the Community Evaluation Program (CEP).  We are running a Private Cloud evaluation program starting in November, where we will step you through the entire System Center Private Cloud solution set, from Fabric and Infrastructure, through Service Delivery & Automation and Application Management.  Sign up here:
  • Check out all the App Controller resources
  • Download the Beta!

We hope you take App Controller for a spin, and please provide us your feedback on your experiences.




Adam contact photo Adam Hall
Senior Technical Product Manager           
              Application Management

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