Microsoft has released System Centre version 1807, the second semi-annual release of its key Windows management tool.
The release is notable because it’s an update to version 1801, not a full build. As such it demonstrates how Microsoft will deliver the semi-annual releases of its products, namely as a set of new features rather than a big-bang installation.
For users who prefer more substantial upgrades, there’s still the option to adopt the full releases that will continue to arrive every three years or so and receive a decade of support. Semi-annual releases, by contrast, are only supported for 18 months after release. System Center 2019 is due early in that year. And just to confuse matters, System Centre 1901 will debut in around February of 2019.
Microsoft argues that the semi-annual builds enhance users' agility by letting them regularly add new functionality to its products rather than relying on longer upgrade cycles.
That argument’s not easy to sustain with System Center 1807, because the new features aren’t major.
Microsoft’s billed the headline feature as a change to Virtual Machine Manager that lets users “patch and update the nodes of a Storage Spaces Direct cluster with the orchestration of the update process performed by Virtual Machine Manager.” Rather more interesting is the fact that VMM has gained the ability to “manage VMWare ESXi 6.5 hosts and supports conversion of VMs from this ESXi host to Hyper-V VMs.”
Microsoft’s made multiple moves to encourage VMware-to-Hyper-V migrations and to make them easier, without ever making a substantial dent on VMware’s market share. This one probably won’t be a silver bullet, either, but by offering a way to run ESXi-based VMs without dependence on vCenter will make it easier for some users who prefer Microsoft's management tools to handle their VMware estate. It also shows that Microsoft’s still nibbling away at VMware!
Another System Centre component, Operations Manager, has gained a PowerShell based widget for building dashboards, an HTML 5 dashboards at that in order to remove reliance on Silverlight.
Full release notes and download instructions for System Center and its component products are available here.