System Center 2012 SP1: What's new?

Central Perspective


The Data Protection Manager (DPM) now works with the new deduplication technology in Windows Server 2012; this feature helps to discover duplicate files in shares and thus save space. Thanks to SP1, DPM also supports the online backup service Windows Azure Online Backup and can back up data on demand in the cloud. A wizard helps users select their data and the desired backup start time (Figure 3).

Figure 3: A wizard helps you create a backup.

To back up data on servers running Windows Server 2012 online, you additionally need a specific agent [3]. Backup and recovery can then be started using the Windows Backup GUI (Figure 4). This process can also be managed with PowerShell, which offers a separate module for doing so.

Figure 4: Data Protection Manager 2012 SP1 can also back up Windows Server 2012.

Online Backup

The online backup service also supports incremental backups, which then only send the changed blocks. The backup data is encrypted by the agent and stored in Azure. After the backup, the online backup service automatically checks the integrity of the data. However, Windows Azure Online Backup is not free and must be licensed in addition to DPM 2012.

Starting in SP1, the DPM supports the ReFS filesystem (Resilient File System) in Windows Server 2012. In addition to more speed and robustness, the filesystem supports a deeper folder structure and longer file names. Also, the risk of data loss is reduced because the new filesystem includes an improved version of shadow copies. ReFS disks can handle sizes of up to 16EB. Permissions can be assigned on ReFS as on NTFS volumes. The access interface (API) that communicates with the new filesystem matches that of NTFS. However, the filesystem does support Windows Server 2012 boot media. ReFS is currently not integrated into Windows 8.

Operations Manager 2012

Thanks to SP1, System Center Operations Manager (OPS) now cooperates with IIS 8 in Windows Server 2012. SharePoint 2010/2013 and Team Foundation Server 2010/2012 can be monitored by Operations Manager. Other new features include monitoring of computers running CentOS, Debian, and Ubuntu, as well as support for the new Dynamic Access Control (DAC) in Windows Server 2012.

OPS 2012 can also evaluate and visualize the performance and availability of components in an improved way. For example, the new version recognizes the switch port to which a monitored server is connected and can add it to the monitoring scope.

To better monitor individual applications on the network, OPS 2012 also provides support for Java EE web applications (e.g., WebSphere 6.1/7, WebLogic 10 and 11, JBoss, and Tomcat). Administrators can also manage OPS in 2012 through a web console. Web Parts are also available for integration with your own intranet, for example, through SharePoint. Administrators can create custom dashboards that contain only the information needed in the new version. The developers provide more detail about the dashboards and the available options in their blog [4]. The new version also offers improved administration in PowerShell.

OPS 2012 also works with the Linux security model, without requiring you to always have root privileges. It only escalates privileges on Linux if a specific monitoring process requires elevated privileges. To monitor servers efficiently, an OPS 2012 agent must be installed. Microsoft officially supports the following Linux/Unix systems:

  • HP-UX 11i v2 and v3 (PA-RISC and IA64)
  • Oracle Solaris 9 (SPARC) and Solaris 10 (SPARC and x86)
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4, 5, and 6 (x86/x64)
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 (x86), 10 SP1 (x86/x64), and 11 (x86/x64)
  • IBM AIX 5.3, AIX 6.1 (POWER), and AIX 7.1 (POWER)

Microsoft offers the Unix Linux Shell Command Template Management Pack as a download. With this package, you can create rules in the OPS 2012 management console that use the Unix/Linux shell commands for monitoring. Linux skills are required to include rules like this. Some tips are provided on the blog [5].

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