System Center 2012 R2 UR4 Exposes Minor Confusion About Relationship Between Orchestrator, SPF, and SR

First, the good part: we release UR4 today: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2992012.  Yay!

[NOTE: the typos that led to this post have been corrected, but because I get asked about it pretty frequently I’ll leave this up as an explanation about the relationship between System Center Orchestrator, SPF, and SR.]

Now for the confusion part.  If you go to that URL for the overall release, as always, you will find other targeted URLs for per-component KB articles.  If you follow the one for Service Provider Foundation it will take you to a page that (at time of UR4 publication) says “Update Rollup 4 for System Center 2012 R2 Orchestrator.”

My Microsoft colleague and prodigious blogger J.C. Hornbeck posted this morning about an update to Orchestrator and linked to the SPF page.  Since this momentarily confused me I thought it was worth a quick post of my own while we process slight changes to the text to make things clear.

What follows from here is a quick explanation of why this happens.  Back in the summer of 2012 we were getting ready to ship System Center 2012 SP1, in which Service Provider Foundation made its v1.0 debut.  Prior to release, our product management team took some feedback from customers which suggested that the family of products in the System Center suite had grown large enough.  So, rather than debut SPF as a full-fledged suite component in its own right, we would bundle it with System Center Orchestrator as “additional software” (which basically means it can be installed many times on many machines, appropriate for a scalable web service–suggest you have a lawyer read the “additional software” notice if you want to go deep on that concept).  We chose Orchestrator at the time because: 1) SPF was initially conceived to be the API surface for multiple System Center products even though that ended up not happening for lots of good reasons; 2) the SPF API is key middle-of-stack integration technology, and SPF could be considered thematically consistent with integration packs for anything else that Orchestrator can talk to.

Same thing with SR (Service Reporting), also a child of Orchestrator in terms of packaging, licensing, and update.

Hope that helps, sorry for any confusion, and happy UR4!