Why Unix Is Dead In Microsoft’s Private Cloud

Microsoft’s System Center platform includes a wide range of options for configuring and managing Unix and Linux systems. However, when it comes to rolling out and managing virtual machines and creating private cloud environments, there’s not much room for Unix.

System Center 2012 SP1, which was released in beta September last year before officially rolling out in January, extended the range of Unix-derived platforms which could be managed through by Microsoft’s platform. Earlier versions of System Center had handled the Red Hat and SUSE flavours of Linux, as well as the ‘big three’ enterprise Unix flavours: AIX, Solaris and HP-UX. The SP1 release added Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS and Oracle Linux to the mix, with support for those platforms in Operations Manager and with Microsoft’s Forefront endpoint protection security software. An update due by the end of June will also make Configuration Manager work across that same range of Linux and Unix platforms.

However, the Unix flavours miss out when it comes to Virtual Machine Manager (VMM), which is used to deploy and manage virtual machines in the System Center environment. Red Hat, SUSE, Centos and Ubuntu are already supported in VMM, and Debian and Oracle are due to be added in a future release, but there are no plans to support any Unix flavours.

“Once we move to the private cloud, we don’t see the Unixes having a great share in cloud and we’re not planning on delivering Unix management in the cloud,” Microsoft senior program manager John Thekkethala said during a presentation at the Microsoft Management Summit (MMS) in Las Vegas. It’s possible for third-party developers to build plug-ins to support those platforms, but Microsoft has no plans to do so.

Newer Linux distributions are more likely to gain support from Microsoft. “As things change, we will get on board with newer versions and newer distros,” Thekkethala said. “We want to facilitate you to move between these different infrastructures.”

Thekkethala said a more concentrated approach made more sense than supporting a shrinking platform. “We will support core capabilities — we’re talking about full strength implementation in System Center. We’re not just talking about being a check box.”

Adding new OSes to the list of supported platforms doesn’t generally change the interface for Virtual Machine Manager. :Most of VMM is really OS-agnostic,” Thekkethala said. “There’s very little divergence with working with a Linux VM in VMM and working with a Windows VM.”

Lifehacker’s World Of Servers sees me travelling to conferences around Australia and around the globe in search of fresh insights into how server and infrastructure deployment is changing in the cloud era. This week, I’m in Las Vegas for the Microsoft Management Summit 2013, looking for practical guidance on deploying and managing Windows servers.

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