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Microsoft’s 2012 Products: Why can’t they all just work together?

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I have heard a lot of comments, groans, and snide remarks about all of the 2012 products not working together – specifically Windows Server 2012, System Center 2012, and SQL Server 2012.  While I share your pain, it is important to know a few things.

Each of these products is developed by different product teams, each working on very strict NDAs and very strict deadlines… none of which are the same.  SQL Server released first, followed by System Center 2012, and finally Windows Server 2012.  These were not in quick succession you understand… they were over a course of seven or eight months.

Imagine telling the product team for System Center: ‘The new product that you are releasing in March… make sure that it is fully compatible with a product that will be released in September, which the product team cannot properly share with you until July, for which features and security have not been completely decided.’

That scenario does not seem realistic to me.  However let’s try something else:

‘Hey guys, the product that you are releasing in March… we would like for it to be fully compatible with another product that another team will be releasing in September… Once that product is released, we are giving you 90 days to release a service pack that will make the two products fully compatible.’

I think the second scenario was a lot more reasonable, and while there were a few snags along the way (the RTM of the service pack came within 105 days, not 90 days of the RTM of Windows Server 2012) I think they did a great job.

As for SQL Server, some of its components do require a feature (NetFx3) that the Windows Server team did not include in the final install…(See article: Installing NetFx3 on Windows Server 2012) it is a simple workaround, and one that is documented quite well in SQL circles (in which I do not travel much).  However as far as stumbling blocks go, this is a fairly minor one, with a very easy solution.

Would it be too much to expect that all teams at Microsoft were on the same page?  Actually knowing (or at least suspecting) how many people are involved, I think it would be.  Each one of these teams is larger than many companies.  So if you think of each of these teams as a separate company, if you were to purchase each from the individual companies you would be thrilled that these were the most serious stumbling blocks out there.  The reason we complain about them is because Microsoft is actually one company.

Do I wish things were easier for us as IT Pros? Not at all.  I remember what things were like five and fifteen years ago, and I expect that we are aeons ahead of where we were.  In fact, if things got a whole lot easier, some of us would be out of a job Smile

Of course I do not speak for Microsoft on this, but I do appreciate the reasons behind the issues.  Hopefully now that 2012 is behind us, all of the products labeled 2012 will work together (they do!) and we can spend the next few years working with these tools in harmony!

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2 Comments

  1. While I certainly understand, and appreciate, the challenges with coordinating development of various independent products …. doesn’t it seem more practical, though, to get the OS out the door first, and THEN develop the apps that will run on top of it?

    It just seems ass backwards to me to release new generations of applications that only work on a four year old operating system when you KNOW there’s a new version of that operating system that will be available in six months.

    This is not a fault of the Windows Server team, the System Center team, or the SQL Server team, it is the fault of Microsoft Executive Management for not exerting better corporate influence on the aggregate efforts at product development, and coordinating product releases as a corporate effort, rather than individual fiefdoms.

    • Mitch Garvis says:

      Hi Lawrence,
      While I understand your point of view, you have to remember that the VAST majority of operating systems that System Center will be managing over the first couple of years is still 2008 and 2008 R2. A lot more companies have adopted System Center 2012 out of the gate than will adopt Server 2012 because Server is the system that their entire operations runs on, and everything has to be tested first and even then, most companies will not upgrade their server OS on existing hardware, they will simply install it on new hardware purchases. As such I disagree with your argument, but it is certainly a valid and intelligent one! -MDG

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