First published on TECHNET on Sep 21, 2012
To answer a question I've been getting a lot lately: yes, Service Provider Foundation (SPF) is still a part of System Center 2012 SP1. The reason the question is coming up so much is that SPF moved in terms of packaging. Up to and including the CTP2 release SPF was discoverable on release media at peer level to the main System Center components. From SP1 Beta onward, SPF ships as part of Orchestrator.
We bundled SPF with Orchestrator for 2 reasons:
Consistent feedback from customers and partners in the field is that System Center has a lot of components, and it would probably be net negative perception-wise to be introducing another one.
Automation & Integration go together as comprehensive middleware. In much the same way that BillG wouldn't let us ship BizTalk Server 2000 (the first version) until we added Orchestration to the foundational message-based integration capabilities, SPF as an integration API can be highly complementary to automation in Orchestrator and vice-versa.
Now, to be clear, this doesn't imply that Orchestrator and SPF have any hard dependency on each other: they don't. But they do complement one another. If someone wants to extend SPF beyond its out-of-box behavior (e.g. trigger ERP system actions when SPF drives creation of a new VM on behalf of a self-service user) Orchestrator runbooks are a great way to do it. Similarly, a runbook (using the new RESTful API integration pack) can invoke any capabilities exposed through SPF if it makes sense to do that for the scenario.
If you have Beta bits that have already been unzipped, you will find the SPF bits under the SCO subfolder. You can install SPF from there. The preferred method is to launch Orchestrator setup and simply select "Install SPF" from the opening splash screen. However, you can also navigate deeper in the media and find the SPF subfolder, and the setup.exe you find there can be launched directly.
What's New in SPF?
This will by no means be a complete list, but SPF has changed quite a bit since CTP2. The biggest change is a huge increase in overall product quality (e.g. it was WAY easier for us to build lab materials for this week's TAP airlift as compared to how hard it was to make a workable set of labs for the TAP airlift in July). But because I've gotten a few questions about them, I thought I'd call out a couple SPF-specific changes:
There are new web service endpoints:
Admin - includes management resources accessible by and specific to administrators, for doing things like creating tenants (i.e. that's not something that self-service users do and is therefore not part of the base VMM web service).
The security stuff is more complete: you will find that we use SSL by default (and in fact the UI setup experience does not allow vanilla HTTP), certificate management is necessary in some cases (e.g. where App Controller talks to VMM through SPF in the enterprise fabric extension via hoster scenario), and user roles are more formalized consistent with the model where SPF validates user authorization to perform actions and then does delegated work on that caller's behalf.
I want to again express my gratitude to the TAP customer, partners, and all early adopters out there who are eagerly driving toward production readiness and showing so much interest in SPF and System Center SP1. Your involvement is critical to completing not just this current release but in setting the roadmap for the next ones. Thank you !