System Center 2016 Technical Preview 4 Recap

~ Bala Rajagopalan, Group Program Manager

As Mike Neil noted in his blog post, Windows Server (WS) 2016 brings cloud-born technologies to your datacenter. System Center (SC) 2016 is the perfect companion for managing this infrastructure and monitoring the associated workloads. If you are already using SC 2012 R2, upgrading to SC 2016 will provide enhanced value in client and server configuration, virtualization management, infrastructure and application monitoring, service management, and automation.

While SC 2016 will deliver significant feature enhancements in various areas, the particular focus is on the following:

Fundamentals: Ease of deployment, usability, and performance are fundamental to enhancing your operational experience with System Center. SC 2016 focuses on improving these fundamentals across various SC components. The improvements to SC 2012 R2 that were already delivered via various Update Rollups (URs) will also be available in SC 2016.

Support for Windows 10 and WS 2016 deployments: Deployment and management of Windows 10 devices is a key goal of SC Configuration Manager (CM). Furthermore, both SCCM and SC Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) will fully support the management of WS 2016 deployments and virtualization capabilities. SC Operations Manager (OM), in conjunction with WS 2016 Software-Defined Networking (SDN), will provide new network monitoring capabilities. It will also ease the development and deployment of management packs in support of WS 2016 deployments.

Attach to Microsoft Operations Management Suite (OMS) : SC 2016 will start providing native integration with OMS – a set of cloud-based services that would complement and extend SC functionality to give you new analytics, correlation, orchestration, archival, and hybrid management capabilities. With SC and OMS, you can use System Center – with its rich set of capabilities and familiar operations – on-premises, while tapping into OMS as needed for extended capabilities that rely on the power of the cloud. The integration of SC and OMS will be a continuous process starting with SC 2016 and extending beyond.

Technical Preview (TP) 4 reflects the above focus of SC 2016. A component-wise summary of the key capabilities in SC 2016 TP4 is given below (the links will take you to product pages that provide additional details).

System Center Component     Features available in System Center 2016 TP4
Operations Manager
  • Updates and Recommendations of MPs
  • Monitoring of Nano Server
  • Suspend Monitoring using Maintenance Schedules
  • Extending OM to OMS
Configuration Manager
  • Mobile Device Management – feature parity with Intune Standalone
  • Integration with Windows Update for Business
  • Certificate provisioning for Windows 10 devices.
Service Manager
  • New HTML5 Self Service Portal
  • Support for Lync 2013 & Skype for Business
  • Performance enhancements
    • Faster AD connector Sync
    • Grooming improvements for ECL logs
    • Reduction in incident workflow lag
    • Integrated ADGroupExpansion Workflow into AD connector
  • Built on .Net4.5
  • Support for SQL AlwaysOn installation
Virtual Machine Manager
  • Management of guarded hosts and shielded VMs
  • Compute
    • Rolling OS upgrade of cluster nodes
    • Managing mixed OS clusters
    • Streamlined compute and storage cluster creation
  • Networking
    • Consistent naming of virtual network adapters as seen by the guest operating system
    • Simpler and reliable methods for applying network settings consistently to hosts
    • Create VM networks with or without VLANs and with or without network virtualization
    • Create logical switches and apply them to Hyper-V hosts running Windows Server Technical Preview
  • Storage
    • End-to-end Quality of Service (QoS) for storage
    • Support for storage tiers
    • Support for Storage Spaces Direct
  • Virtual machines
    • Change the static memory configuration of a running virtual machine
    • Add or remove a virtual network adapter to or from a running virtual machine
    • New options for creating virtual machine checkpoints
  • Add Azure Subscription and perform basic actions on Azure instances
Data Protection Manager
  • Protection of data sources in mixed-mode clusters
  • Resilient change tracking (RCT)
  • Backup VMs that use Storage Spaces Direct
  • Backup Virtual TPM enabled VMs

If you are yet to try out SC 2016 TP 4, please visit https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/evalcenter/evaluate-system-center-technical-preview.

The TechNet documentation for SC 2016 TP 4 is available at https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn997272.aspx.

If you have any questions on SC 2016 TP4, you can post it at the SC social forum.

Looking forward to hearing from you on your experiences with SC 2016 TP4.

Bala Rajagopalan | Group Program Manager | Microsoft

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