Microsoft told partners attending its Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto Tuesday that the software giant will be providing them with the services and tools they need to build more flexible cloud-based services for their customers -- including branded clouds.
The seamlessly interrelated technologies rolled into the community technology preview, or CTP, unveiled by Microsoft promises to enable hosting service providers to use their own Windows Server data centers to deliver capabilities similar to Microsoft's Windows Azure platform.
"We've taken everything that we've learned from running data centers and services at a global scale to usher in the new era of the Cloud OS," said Satya Nadella, president of Microsoft's server and tools business. "Microsoft offers partners modern yet familiar technology to meet customer demand on their path to the cloud."
Microsoft's Windows Azure, Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012 platforms collectively deliver the requisite Cloud OS components for scaling a standard unit of hardware abstraction all the way up to the equivalent of an entire data center that can be managed from a single, consistent interface.
"With Windows Azure, System Center and Windows Server 2012, we are delivering the ultimate cloud OS," said Jeff Woolsey, Microsoft's principal program manager for Windows Server and Cloud.
Going After VMware's Customers
Through its Switch to Hyper-V program, Microsoft clearly intended to steal customers from virtualization technology provider VMware. During his WDC presentation Tuesday, for example, Woolsey showed how CTP can outperform VMware's virtual machines.
"The guys at VMware claim that they can deliver a maximum of 300,000 IOPS from a single virtual machine," Woolsey noted. "We're delivering over 1 million IOPS from a single virtual machine. That's over three times VMware, and folks, I'm just getting warmed up."
What's more, the new offloaded data transfer (ODX) technology built into Windows Server 2012 will enable customers to copy huge files without causing a spike in network utilization. Using ODX storage, Woolsey copied a 10GB file in 10 seconds flat during his WPC presentation.
"This type of performance is unheard of, and with the other slew of capabilities we're including in Server 2012, it makes Server 2012 a no-brainer for cloud storage," Woolsey said.
Microsoft said partner FyrSoft has already helped Pella Corp. to migrate nearly 700 VMware virtual machines to the cloud -- "all while saving costs and improving the company's bottom line during challenging economic times," said Microsoft Corporate Vice President Takeshi Numoto in a blog Tuesday.
Amazon in the Cross Hairs
Customers have told Microsoft that they want choice and flexibility when it comes to the cloud, Woolsey said.
"They want to be able to run on-premises as well as service provider offerings as well," he said.
With CTP, partners and customers will be able to build their own data centers in the cloud while using Windows Azure as well as another service provider's cloud with consistency.
"This is something that Microsoft can now do uniquely," Nadella observed.
"There's no translation of virtualization format [and] you have a single pane of glass for management," Nadella said.
One goal is to attract the attention of service providers who want to be able to control and manage their own brand-name clouds. In this respect, Microsoft's new hybrid cloud OS strategy is a shot across the bow of Amazon's cloud-based Web services business.
"I believe it truly sets Microsoft apart," Numoto said. "We now have even more resources in place to help partners more easily migrate customers from another platform to ours."