What's Inside The New Windows Server Management Updates

Microsoft announced numerous updates to the Windows Server management infrastructure today, making it easier to manage mobile devices within the overall Windows platform. We've got the rundown on what has changed.

The most obvious change (and the one that's likely to be implemented the most speedily in many end-user sites) is the final release of System Center 2012 Service Pack 1. The beta version of this has been out since September last year. As well as enabling System Center to work with Windows Server 2012 and SQL Server 2012, the update adds support for backing up to Windows Azure.

At a more granular level, new service packs for System Center Configuration Manager 2012 and System Center Endpoint Protection 2012 have also been released. Configuration Manager now includes support for the Windows To Go portable platform, adds PowerShell support, and allows administrators to limit downloads when devices are using 3G or 4G mobile connections. As well as Windows machines, Configuration Manager can be used with Macs, Linux and Unix. Endpoint Proteection now incorporates thrice-daily definition updates and enhanced administrator access for managing endpoint security policies.

On the Azure front, potentially the most interesting rollout is a service called Global Service Monitor (GSM), which helps organisations track real-world performance of web-based applications within the System Center environment. The Microsoft Server & Cloud blog explains how this works:

SP1 includes support for the new Windows Azure-based service called “Global Service Monitor” (GSM). GSM extends the application monitoring capabilities in System Center 2012 SP1 using Windows Azure points of presence around the globe, giving a true reflection of end-user experience of your application. Synthetic transactions are scheduled using your on-premises System Center 2012 SP1 Operations Manager console; the GSM service executes the transactions against your web-facing application and GSM reports back the results (availability, performance, functionality) to your on-premises System Center dashboard.

Microsoft has also updated Windows Intune, its subscription-based device management solution which works in conjunction with Configuration Manager and allows management of mobile devices with the same infrastructure using for PCs. The platform incorporates management of iOS, Android, Windows RT and Windows 8 devices (BlackBerry is a rather obvious omission from that list). Pricing remains the same: the basic service costs $US6 per device per month, while .

Evolve is a weekly column at Lifehacker looking at trends and technologies IT workers need to know about to stay employed and improve their careers.


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