On the other hand, a new ability to virtualize server applications, while it works with multiple hypervisors, only applies to Windows Server applications, and not Linux. (See also: "Next level of virtualization unlocks Server OS, applications.")
Anderson acknowledges there are limits to Microsoft's management of competing products, but says Redmond genuinely wants to provide parity between Microsoft and non-Microsoft software.
In the case of Hyper-V, "there are certain things we build inside System Center that are specific to Hyper-V, just like VMware builds vSphere that manages their underlying hypervisor," Anderson said. But "if you believe most customers are going to be hybrid in using multiple clouds and using multiple hypervisors, your strategy has to be that they're all first class citizens," he said.
Anderson boasts that two-thirds of enterprises with at least 500 PCs use System Center, and says Microsoft manages more Windows servers than any other vendor, even the ones in the Big Four.
But he also says nearly 20% of customers who use System Center Operations Manager to oversee Windows implementations are also using it to manage non-Windows servers, predominantly Linux.
"If we're going to come in and were going to deliver value on a platform, we want to deliver the same amount of value on that platform as we do on Windows," he said.
Target, a Microsoft customer that uses Hyper-V to virtualize Windows and also has a small SUSE Linux deployment, says it's relieved that Microsoft is ramping up support for multiple operating systems.
"They now seem to really understand that their customers have very heterogeneous implementations, different operating systems, and they are changing System Center to be able to manage endpoints that are running non-Windows operating systems," said Target's Brad Thompson, director of IT infrastructure engineering. "It's nice to know that over time, as our footprint of devices in the stores evolve and there's the potential to have non-Windows operating systems, that our management suite is extensible enough to manage those as well."
But while Anderson noted that customers are using "multiple clouds," so far System Center manages only Azure, although it does so in a way that lets customers manage internal Windows Server deployments side by side with cloud-based Azure deployments.
Anderson says Microsoft is "not seeing the demand" for support of Amazon EC2, but System Center, however, is "architected in a way that we can literally plug in a provider for any cloud. It's just a matter of prioritization."
Clouds that use VMware on the back end can easily slide into System Center, he also said. "VMware's working with Google and Salesforce on public clouds," Anderson notes. "The majority of the work we've done to incorporate VMware into System Center will be applicable to those environments."
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