Why not use Microsoft System Center?

Microsoft System Center is a suite of products designed to manage and monitor both hardware and software installations across large organizations. It was designed to be everything to everybody. The specific details of monitoring and managing different applications have been abstracted out of the system. For any given monitoring or management scenario, the installation of a ‘Management Pack’, which encapsulates the application specific details, is required. There are management packs for Microsoft operating systems as wells as Microsoft products such as Exchange Server and BizTalk RFID Server. This flexibility is one of the strengths of Microsoft System Center.

Of the products in Microsoft System Center, Microsoft Operations Manager 2007 and Microsoft Essentials 2007 are the minimal applications required for monitoring. Microsoft Configuration Manager, Microsoft Reporting Manager and Microsoft Service Manager provided additional features but are not required. Using Microsoft System Center for RFID monitoring may be the right approach for larger organizations that have already made the investment. For smaller organizations or organizations that are only interested in RFID monitoring, Microsoft System Center results in increased complexity, overhead, and total cost of ownership.

Microsoft System Center is heavily dependent on other Microsoft products and technologies. As a result: installation, configuration and maintenance are complex and difficult. Deploying and sustaining a Microsoft System Center based infrastructure requires a dedicated staff of IT professionals with an advanced skill set. In order to be successful, a Microsoft System Center ‘Certified Specialist’ should be employed. For example, employees should be well qualified in Active Directory in order to navigate the security restrictions imposed when remotely accessing corporate networks. This problem is compounded for service centers that need to cross organizational boundaries and negotiate multiple, dissimilar active directories.

Microsoft System Center also results in increased hardware and software costs. All products in the suite require some version of Windows Server which, by design, is more expensive. Installing System Center on a workstation style operating system such as Windows XP Professional or Windows Vista is not an option. Within the suite, products such as Microsoft Operations Manager 2007 and Microsoft Essentials 2007 are licensed independently. In the case of Microsoft Essentials 2007, licensing is proportional to the number of machines being monitored. Depending on which versions of other Microsoft products are deployed, such as SQL Server, additional licenses may also be required. Finally, because Active Directory is a required component and Microsoft System Center cannot be installed on a Primary Domain Controller, multiple machines are required. Installing Microsoft System Center, Active Directory and BizTalk RFID Server on a single machine is not possible.