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Microsoft Preps System Center 2019 for March Release

System Center 2019, the latest generation of Microsoft’s suite of management tools, is poised to hit the “general availability” stage sometime in March.

The new release will aim to bring support for Windows Server 2019, according to Microsoft’s announcement on Thursday, plus integration with some Azure services. Microsoft is promising that there won’t be a price increase with System Center 2019.

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For organizations using earlier System Center products, it’ll be possible to upgrade from System Center 2016. In addition, upgrades to System Center 2019 will be supported from the past two SAC releases, namely versions 1807 and 1801, Microsoft’s announcement indicated.

SAC Dropped
Microsoft also announced a major shift in terms of System Center 2019’s product upgrades and lifecycle support. In particular, Microsoft plans to drop the semiannual channel (SAC) update model with the System Center 2019 product. What that means is that users of System Center 2019 will get the traditional five years of “mainstream support” and five years of “extended support,” but new feature updates will arrive as Update Rollups every six months. These feature updates won’t have a lifecycle limited to 18 months as they did with the SAC update model, so organizations will have more time to complete their product upgrades, up to 10 years if they want.

Here’s how that idea was expressed by Kevin Holman, a principal Premier Field Engineer with Microsoft Services, in this blog post:

    • SCOM 2019 will GA in March 2019.
    • The Semi-Annual Channel (1801/1807) will not be continued
    • New features will come in Update Rollups every 6 months.

So now we get the best of both worlds…. new features added every 6 months just like SAC, but Long Term Servicing (5 years of mainstream support and 5 years of Extended Support) without the limited 18 month support of each release in Semi-Annual Channel.  Only one branch to deal with supporting, patching, etc.

The only exception to this System Center 2019 servicing shift will be the Configuration Manager component. It’ll still track with the Windows 10 semiannual channel update model (twice per year), although Microsoft actually releases three feature updates per year for Configuration Manager, and that practice will continue with System Center 2019.

Microsoft first shifted to the 18-month-supported SAC model with System Center last year, but it simultaneously offered a more traditional long-term servicing channel (LTSC) option that delivered fewer product updates with 10 years of support. It turned out that customers preferred the LTSC option.

“From talking to customers, we learned that LTSC works better for most System Center deployments as the update cycles are longer and more stable,” Microsoft’s announcement explained.

System Center 2019 Highlights
Some highlights of System Center 2019 were noted. To support so-called “hybrid” (cloud plus local server) scenarios, Microsoft has “integrated System Center with a set of management services in Azure to augment the on-premises tools,” the announcement indicated. One example in that respect concerns the Operations Manager component. It can use an Azure Management Pack to gain Application Insights Web application monitoring capabilities, plus the ability to monitor Azure Blob Storage and Azure Data Factory services.

Another example of Azure integration concerns the Virtual Machine Manager component of System Center 2019. Virtual Machine Manager integrates with Azure Update Management, which will simplify virtual machine patching, Microsoft promised.

Microsoft is also adding a new role called the “VM administrator” for Virtual Machine Manager with the 2019 product. This role “provides just enough permissions for read-only visibility into the fabric of the data center, but prevents escalation of privilege to fabric administration,” the announcement explained.

The Data Protection Manager component in System Center 2019 will deliver faster backups that use less storage space, the announcement promised, describing a “75 percent increase in speed” for backups. It’s able to use “key backup parameters via “[Azure] Log Analytics,” the announcement added. Data Protection Manager users will be able to back up VMware workloads to tape, and they’ll also be able to back up SharePoint 2019 and Exchange 2019 workloads.

Some components in System Center 2019 are getting “modernized.” For instance, it’ll be possible to extend the Operations Manager console using REST API-built custom widgets, Microsoft promised. Operations Manager also is getting HTML e-mail support for notifications. Operations Manager is also getting Fluentd open source data collector support for Linux server monitoring.

For a more comprehensive description of what’s to be expected in System Center 2019, see Thomas Maurer’s December description. Maurer is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional who now works as a senior cloud advocate at Microsoft.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.