So, how does Microsoft fair against the competition? I think it fairs quite well, thanks to its strong foothold in the Enterprise and the breadth and depth of its cloud solutions. Whether it is a traditional on-premise deployment, highly virtualized datacenter, private cloud, or public cloud offering - Microsoft has a compelling solution, great integration story, deep corporate pockets, and strong technical expertise required to further enhance and support it. So, you choose whatever road to take, it's on your terms:
When it comes to Microsoft's public cloud offerings, they are fairly well known and publicized: Dynamics CRM Online, Office 365, Windows Intune, Windows Azure, SkyDrive. So, I wanted to spend some time highlighting the features and benefits of Microsoft's private cloud offering and its cornerstone - System Center 2012. Hence, meet SC2012, I suggest you start with reviewing the following:
Then, work your way down to the individual products and technologies:
- App Controller
- Service Manager
- Virtual Machine Manager
- Configuration Manager
- Operations Manager
- Data Protection Manager
- Endpoint Protection
And now, take a look at the entire private cloud stack:
Impressive? I think so, but this is not the whole story yet. So far we have only covered the foundation - infrastructure, process automation, management and monitoring - necessary to establish a solid platform for applications and services; after all, this is what business users and consumers alike are typically after - I guess it's not all about the cloud, it's about the apps.
Naturally, Microsoft's own wide-ranging product portfolio (from productivity, communications and collaboration software; to customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning solutions; to data warehousing, online analytical processing, and business intelligence), along with a diverse ecosystem of products from Microsoft partners and independent software vendors, present a perfect fit and deliver significant value when provisioned, delivered, managed, and monitored via the private cloud platform.
About the benefits. Private cloud can provide a healthy mix of usual cloud incentives - such as agility, focus, and economics - along with enhanced abilities to control, secure, and customize the environment. Here are a few specific benefits of the Microsoft private cloud:
- Heterogeneous support: multiple hardware vendors (Dell, IBM, HP, Hitachi, Fujitsu, NetApp, Cisco), hypervisors (hyper-v, vmware, xenserver), operating systems (Widows, Linux), and application platforms (.Net, Java, PHP, Ruby) are supported.
- Process automation: strong automation capabilities via Orchestrator across all System Center products as well as 3rd party tools (HP, CA, BMC, EMC)
- Self-service infrastructure: robust self-service capabilities delivered via App Controller and Service Manager, supported by process automation
- Service-centric approach: holistic approach to service definition (includes hardware, software, multiple inter-related systems)
- Comprehensive systems and application manageability: solid management capabilities delivered via Configuration Manager, supported by process automation
- Deep systems and application monitoring and diagnosis: robust monitoring capabilities delivered via Operations Manager, supported by process automation
- Flexible delegation and control: role based administration and granular control
- Cross-cloud application management: manage private and public cloud applications via a single console, move applications between clouds
- Physical, virtual, and cloud management: use the same set of tools to manage physical and virtual infrastructure, as well as public and private clouds
Many of the leading cloud computing platforms are proprietary in nature (i.e. Amazon, Microsoft), while others are build upon open source projects (i.e. HP and Rackspace using OpenStack, Datapipe and Zynga using CloudStack; CERN using OpenNebula; NASA using Eucalyptus; Yandex using Nimbula). Neither approach is either good or bad, right or wrong. Time will settle the score; meanwhile, there's nothing wrong with variety and a healthy competition is always good for the consumers of cloud services and platforms.