Microsoft Fleshes Out Cloud OS Vision

Darryl K. Taft covers IBM, big data and a number of other topics for TechWeekEurope and eWeek

Microsoft is offering a clearer insight into its Cloud OS vision after the release of new products and services

Microsoft is offering potential customers a better insight into its Cloud OS vision going forward, after announcing a series of products and services.

In a 15 January press briefing, Microsoft described how customers and partners can capitalise on cloud opportunities with System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 (SP1), the new Windows Intune, and Windows Azure services for Windows Server. These products help users manage hybrid cloud services and connected devices – including iOS and Android – with greater agility and cost efficiency, Microsoft said.

One Platform

Also on 15 January in a blog post, Michael Park, Microsoft corporate vice president of Server and Tools Marketing, outlined the Microsoft Cloud OS vision to provide customers with one consistent platform for infrastructure, apps and data – spanning customer data centres, hosting-service-provider data centres and the Microsoft public cloud.

Microsoft has been very successful building a business around the concept of an OS, Park said. “And we think an OS will play a more important role in the era of the cloud,” he said in a briefing. Park also wrote about the Cloud OS on The Official Microsoft Blog.

“At the highest level, the Cloud OS does what a traditional operating system does – manage applications and hardware – but at the scope and scale of cloud computing,” Park said in the post. “The foundations of the Cloud OS are Windows Server and Windows Azure, complemented by the full breadth of our technology solutions, such as SQL Server, System Center and Visual Studio. Together, these technologies provide one consistent platform for infrastructure, apps and data that can span your data centre, service-provider data centres, and the Microsoft public cloud.”

Moreover, “with Windows Server and Windows Azure at its core, the Cloud OS provides a consistent platform across customer data centres, service-provider data centres and the Microsoft public cloud,” Park said in a statement. “Powerful management and automation capabilities are key elements of the Cloud OS, taking the heavy lifting out of administration and freeing IT organizations to be more innovative as they embrace hybrid cloud computing and the consumerisation of IT.”

Microsoft announced the general availability of System Center 2012 Service Pack 1; this update brings the full range of System Center management to Windows Server 2012 for private and hybrid cloud-based computing. It provides a single tool to manage cloud-based applications and resources running in a private, hosted or public cloud.

Using System Center 2012 SP1 with Windows Server 2012, customers can shift from managing data centre components separately to delivering resources as a whole, including networking, storage and compute, Microsoft said. Cloud infrastructure capabilities such as multi-tenancy, software-defined networking and storage virtualisation are built in and ready for automated, hybrid cloud environments.

With the updated System Center, customers can centrally manage cloud-based applications and resources running in their data centres, on a hosted-service-provider data centre or on Windows Azure. By integrating service-provider cloud capacity and management directly into their operations, enterprises can extend their data centre capabilities. Administrators can move virtual machines to Windows Azure and manage them from within System Center, based on their needs.

Customers can also use System Center 2012 SP1 to back up their servers to Windows Azure to help protect against data loss and corruption. In addition, SP1 supports Global Service Monitor (GSM), a new Windows Azure-based service available for trial evaluation, which provides Web application performance measurement from a user’s perspective. System Center GSM extends the application monitoring capabilities in System Center 2012 SP1 using Windows Azure locations around the globe, giving a true reflection of end-user application experiences. GSM is now available for trial and will be broadly available in March.

Hosting Opportunities

Hosting service providers play a key role in the Cloud OS with the opportunity to deliver new solutions, attract more customers and grow revenues. With Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012 SP1, they can build multitenant, massive-scale cloud services that interoperate with customer data centre operations. For example, System Center 2012 SP1 delivers a Service Provider Foundation API, which hosting partners can use to give customers self-service management of hosted infrastructure and applications.

In addition, Microsoft announced System Center Advisor, a Windows Azure-based management solution that enables IT departments to assess server configurations and pro-actively avoid problems, help to resolve issues faster and reduce downtime. System Center Advisor is now available to all Microsoft customers, not just those with Software Assurance, the company said.