Microsoft has unveiled the release candidate of System Center 2012, promising a major simplification of licensing for those enterprise users managing a combination of in-house servers and public cloud services.
The Redmond-based vendor cut the license items from 110 in its 2010 release to just two. Users will be offered "Standard" or "Datacenter" editions, each consisting of eight tools to help enterprise users manage applications, services, virtual machines, security and configuration on their servers.
According to a licensing data sheet [pdf] released by the vendor, both editions offer much the same components and are licensed per processor (one license for every two sockets).
These components include Operations Manager, Configuration Manager, Data Protection Manager, Service Manager, Virtual Machine Manager, App Controller, Orchestrator and Endpoint Protection (formerly Forefont).
A two-year license for the Standard Edition (US$1323) is also limited to servers running no more than two installed operating system instances,, while the Datacenter Edition license (US$3607) covers a server running an unlimited number of virtual machines.
In most cases Microsoft is offering a one-for-one license with existing System Center licenses; the best exchange was for existing users of Microsoft's enterprise server management suite.
System Center continues to offer hypevisor support for both Microsoft's Hyper-V and VMware's ESX and the 2012 edition includes additional support for Citrix's Xen.
The final version of System Center is expected within the next six months, Microsoft executives told Ars Technica.
The release candidate can be found here.