An Outside View of Microsoft’s Private Cloud Initiative


 

Our thanks to Hanu Kommalapati, Microsoft Senior Principal Architect Evangelist for calling our attention to this article. It gives an objective look at Hyper-V Cloud from a non-Microsoft source.   We are including it in-line to save you some time because reading the original requires (free) registration.

Bill Zack

 Hyper-V Cloud Accelerates Microsoft's Private Cloud Initiatives
Gary Chen, Mary Johnston Turner
November 12, 2010

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On November 8 2010 at the Tech*Ed Europe conference, Microsoft announced a set of private cloud programs and initiatives under the brand Hyper-V Cloud. Hyper-V Cloud is not a single product but rather a family of deployment options, reference architectures, and services enabled by Hyper-V and System Center products. Microsoft is offering several deployment options for Hyper-V Cloud.   

  • Hyper-V Deployment Guides: provide best practice IP and guidance for customers that want to deploy an operate a Hyper-V cloud environment on their own.
  • A "Fast Track": offers prescribed configuration stacks of hardware (compute, storage, network) and software (Windows Server, Hyper-V, System Center) in collaboration with initial hardware partners that include Dell, HP, Fujitsu, Hitachi, IBM and NEC.  
  • Hyper-V Cloud Service Providers: provides guidance, technical support and market acceleration support to 70+ hosting partners that have committed to supporting Hyper-V private cloud solutions for customers

Each option is designed to speed deployment of private IaaS style cloud environments whether located in the customer's data center or at a hosting partner's location.

It is important to note that Hyper-V cloud provides customers with much more than guidance and certifications for deploying Hyper-V into large scale private data centers. Rather, Hyper-V Cloud requires a full stack of Microsoft Solutions software that acts as the infrastructure control point across prescribed network, storage and server hardware configurations. The infrastructure software components include: 

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 (which includes Hyper-V )
  • System Center Virtual Machine Manager
  • System Center Operations Manager
  • System Center Configuration Manager (recommended)
  • System Center Data Protection Manager (recommended)
  • Virtual Machine Manager Self Service Provisioning R2 (recommended)
  • Third party management software from Fast Track partners (optional)

Taken together, this stack represents a powerful, integrated tool kit for provisioning, operating, monitoring, optimizing and reconfiguring complex, enterprise scale infrastructure resources.

With the integration of runbook automation technology acquired from Opalis and application performance management capabilities from AVIcode to the System Center Server Management Suite, it is reasonable to expect that Hyper-V Cloud customers will quickly be able to both self-provision VMs and optimize infrastructure dynamically using automated workload migration technology driven by pre-defined application performance policies and thresholds.

For organizations that have historically overlooked System Center as a viable enterprise data center management software option, Hyper-V cloud signals that it is time to take a second look.

Hyper-V Cloud: A Destination or a Stepping Stone?

Microsoft still sees the end goal of cloud computing as Windows Azure and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) solutions, whether that is a shared, public model or private as with the Azure Appliance. Hyper-V Cloud will be a transitional solution that allows for gradual evolution of existing IT infrastructure and application environments. Hyper-V Cloud fulfills several immediate competitive needs for Microsoft as it works to transition customers to Azure:

  • Enterprise and mid-market scale private cloud requirements – While Azure was initially a hosted public cloud offering, the announcement of the Azure Appliance extended Azure to private clouds. However, the Azure Appliance doesn't scale down yet and is suitable only for ultra large scale deployments. In addition, it still requires re-architecting of applications and relies on a remote software patching and management model that will be a large departure from the norm for most enterprises. The Hyper-V cloud employs a traditional customer-controlled management model and offers full compatibility for today's applications, making immediate adoption much easier.  
  • Support for existing application environments – While Microsoft and other platform vendors have billed PaaS as eventually replacing IaaS, the transition to a PaaS environment will take a long time. Today's PaaS platforms can only address a fraction of the applications in the market. Azure is primarily for .Net applications at this time, though Microsoft does also support PHP and is adding support for Java. However, there are still plenty of apps using other environments and apps that will not be recoded anytime soon and Microsoft needs a way to address these with a cloud solution that Hyper-V Cloud fills. Microsoft is working diligently on technologies to host legacy applications (such as a VM Role for Azure and Server App-V) on Azure, but customers lose out on leveraging some unique cloud features and must make the decision to re-host the application. Hyper-V Cloud is much less of a disruption than a migration to Azure, and will serve as an intermediary in the longer term Azure strategy.
  • Near term alternative to competitor's converged infrastructure platforms – Tightly integrated converged infrastructure systems such as the Cisco UCS are receiving a lot of attention today, and alliances are forming fast. Microsoft faces competition from Oracle and VMware, that both offer software platforms on converged systems such as Oracle's Exadata/Exalogic and Acadia's vBlock. Microsoft has always had close relationships with OEMs and Hyper-V Cloud will enable these partners to go to market with a Microsoft enabled system.

Microsoft is making substantial investments to support partners going to market with Hyper-V solutions. The goal is to quickly drive up volume and drive down costs to capture market share. While Hyper-V Cloud today is a set of deployment guides and a reference architecture, Microsoft has an excellent opportunity to develop specific Hyper-V Cloud branded products, as VMware has done with vCloud.

Hyper-V Cloud builds Microsoft's market muscle in the areas of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and private cloud, where VMware has been dominant. When Hyper-V was first released, Microsoft's focus was on maturing the core hypervisor and competing in the virtualization market. VMware, cognizant of competitive pressure in the hypervisor market, began moving the conversation beyond virtualization, into management, IaaS and cloud. Hyper-V, in the meanwhile, continued to improve and stabilize, but was increasingly viewed as just a commodity virtualization platform, at a point when many customers were positioning virtualization as the foundation for a larger strategic goal of private cloud. Hyper-V Cloud will allow Microsoft to gain more mindshare and visibility in the market for infrastructure software and private cloud at a point when the customers are making long term architectural commitments.  

For related LINKs and other documents by the author(s), view this IDC LINK online.

Bill Zack

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