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I think the earlier answer hit the nail on the head as to the major change in System Center 2012, i.e. the core focus is the cloud. It allows management of both on premises and public clouds, somewhat like Azure. There is also an added focus on virtualization, with the ability to examine various virtualizations though the single lens of System Center 2012. In a very un-Microsoft way, it is also made to work with non-Microsoft vendors. It makes perfect sense, so I was surprised to see the new approach taken. :-)