MVA Challenge: seeing how it hangs together

The full range of the System Center suite is a daunting one but it's gratifying to see how the parts slot

jigsaw

"There's a lot there and there's a lot to learn how to do," says Cory Hynes, one of the co-presenters of the Microsoft Virtual Academy videos. He's talking specifically about System Center Configuration Manager but in the wider context he could be talking about the Microsoft Virtual Academy itself.

Just 10 minutes into the first video in the Virtualisation Management module it's apparent that we're dealing with a complex range of products and the previous modules on the Virtualisation Platform has served as a taster for the meaty main course to come. As Hynes' fellow presenter, Symon Perriman explains, the previous courses have merely led up to this section "today's the day we put it all together".

For my part, I'm now six weeks into my exploration of Microsoft's Virtual Academy and feel that I'm getting to the core of Microsoft's range of products. This week has been a bit curtailed by a holiday break, so I've only had time to look at one module (and only one video) but that's a module of some richness.

We've explored System Center Configuration Manager and Virtual Machine Manager in some detail.

and have assessed some of the improvements in the 2012 release. As Aidan Finn points out in his appraisal of Virtual Machine Manager, "VMM 2012 is a very different management solution to its predecessors. Rather than being just a virtualisation solution, one can consider it to be a service delivery solution." Services are at the heart of cloud delivery of course so that emphasis reflects the changing nature of IT departments.

But the product also reflects what Perriman calls its mobility but may be better expressed as connectivity in other words, the way that it interacts with the other products in the System Center range.

The initial video in this section covers the full range of System Center products: as well as VMM and Config Manager, there's Opalis, Operations Manager, Data Protection Manager, Workflow Manager and Service Manager. I've had a taster so far next week, I'll get to grips with them all.

Remember, you can join me on the way. If you sign up for the Microsoft Virtual Academy and take the course with me, you could end up winning a prize. There's a Lenovo laptop and De Longhi coffee machine waiting for the person who registers the best score. I'm currently at 216 in the UK rankings so I've got plenty of room for improvement and I'm sure one of the readers is ready to overtake me.

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