Many businesses are changing their perspective on cloud services. A lot of arguments that prohibit acceptance of the cloud slowly start to crumble. Internet connectivity is a common good, bandwidths are increasing and even the legal aspects are dealt with. Instead of a threat the cloud now empowers possibilities. Microsoft anticipated on this change years ago with numerous game changing developments. They have set the bar with their public cloud offerings like Office365.com, Outlook.com and Bing.com just to name a few worldwide deployed services. They have even raised the bar further with their cloud operating system Windows Azure. Providing these services to millions of people gave Microsoft great insight.
Leveraging the knowledge learned through their public cloud offerings, Microsoft has created a great platform for the private cloud with Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012. This scalable solution provides businesses an elastic environment of pooled resources with self-service capabilities and usage based metering.
Microsoft now takes it to the next level by bringing Windows Azure to Windows Server. This solution mainly focusses on service providers but if you do not consider yourself one, please continue reading. The new service has also immense potential for enterprise organizations and might even trigger IT organization to think about providing hosted services.
Windows Azure for Windows Server consists of a Service Management Portal and a Service Management API. Microsoft has released a beta of Windows Azure for Windows Server with two services and will continue to add services over time. The first two services are high density website hosting and virtual machine provisioning and management. I will focus on the virtual machine provisioning service in this blog.
Microsoft provides an end to end solution enabling service providers to create an IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) offering. This end to end solution consists four layers.
- Windows Server 2012: The virtualization layer
- System Center VMM 2012 SP1: The management layer
- Service Provider Foundation for SCVMM: Multitenancy for SCVMM and a REST ODATA API
- Windows Azure For Windows Server (WA4WS): The Service Management Portal and API
Windows Server 2012 is the most cloud capable Operating System ever released. Combined with System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 as the management tool, they form the building blocks of the modern private cloud, providing scalability and availability features to meet even the most critical environments. Service Providers running hundreds or even thousands of workloads for their customers have these requirements. Leveraging the power of the private cloud, Microsoft enables multitenancy with the Service Provider Foundation (SPF). SPF also creates an industry standard Restful ODATA web service that developers can use for programming to System Center VMM 2012. This means that service providers can retain their current portal solutions and still benefit from the private cloud provided by Microsoft.
Windows Azure runs tens of thousands of customers and hundreds are added to the platform each day. As you can imagine the management portal, the primary tool for this platform, is used heavily. Since the launch of Windows Azure on February 1, 2010 the management portal has evolved to fulfill a diversity of requirements, from browser independency to easy administrating, monitoring and diagnostics. Microsoft has taken these developments to complete their end to end offering for service providers and created a Service Management Portal combined with a Service Management API for Windows Server that are now available in Beta.