Microsoft's Cloud Solution

This is the forth of a series of blog posts around Cloud Computing. It gives an overview about the current Cloud Computing trends and explains how to set up a private cloud environment with Microsoft's System Center products.

In this post the solutions around cloud computing from Microsoft are briefly highlighted.

Microsoft offers two different types of Cloud Solutions:
  • Windows Azure for Public Cloud (http://www.windowsazure.com)
  • System Center Suite for Private Clouds (http://www.microsoft.com/systemcenter)

Windows Azure

Azure is Microsoft's Public Cloud solution. It has been launched in February 2010 providing Platform-as-a-Service capabilities. It is supporting the main technologies like .NET, PHP, Java, Node.js, etc... but with a strong focus on ASP .NET web applications.

Microsoft provides automated rolling deployments and takes care about your complete patch management. In order to allow Microsoft installing latest patches on operating system and application server level, the application has to be set-up in an completely automated way using Batch or PowerShell start-up scripts. This allows Microsoft to shut down your application at any time and bring it back into a consistent state by re-executing your start-up scripts. Besides this "restriction" there is basically a complete Windows Server operating system available which you can adapt for your needs.

Recently, Microsoft has also introduced IaaS capabilities which allows you to simply provision virtual images. Microsoft extended their IaaS and PaaS platform to support non-Microsoft products as well: Linux, Hadoop, MySQL, PHP, Java, ...

System Center

Microsoft provides a set of tools, called "System Center", which can be used to build up a cloud environment in your own data center. Most of them are on the market for over a couple of years now. Microsoft has built connectors between these products to integrate them and enable automated interaction between these products in a Cloud environment. The following chapter gives a brief overview about the different parts before taking a look into the details of the main system center products. The following products can be used standalone as well as plugged together to leverage a private cloud.

System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM)

This is the core product for provisioning virtual images and creating private clouds. It provides an administration user interface as well as a self-service portal on top of your virtualization platform. Currently, it supports VMWare ESX, Citrix Xen Server and of course Hyper-V.

System Center Orchestrator

The orchestrator gives you a workflow engine to design and build automated processes. There are a lot of integration packs available for all kind of systems to integrate them within your custom workflows.

System Center Operation Manager (SCOM)

The operation manager is a monitoring solution. It allows you to monitor on operation system level as well as application level.
Besides the out-of-the-box support for standard software, there are also numerous management packs available to monitor certain systems.

System Center App Controller (SCAC)

The app controller allows you to move your applications seamless between different data centers or from private to Microsoft's public cloud Azure.

The system center suite consists of some more products which I do not list here because they are not playing an important role for setting up a private cloud.

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