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Microsoft solutions for the private cloud

Given recent political developments not only in Germany, which will enable authorities, tap off data in the cloud, the trend to build own private clouds will increase. One reason to evaluate current solutions. After I presented with openQRM, Eucalyptus, OpenStack, CloudStack and OpenNebula some open source candidates (German), today it’s time for Microsoft’s solutions. In particular, the new Microsoft Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V bring interesting Microsoft cloud approaches in the own data center.

Microsoft in the private cloud

A private cloud means to transfer the concepts of a public cloud – including flexibility, scalability and self-service – to your own data center. It should be noted again that a simple virtualization meets NOT a private cloud. A cloud includes inter alia the three properties above that are not met by ordinary virtualization.

Microsofts solutions enable to build infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) both in the private and in the public cloud. This has the advantage for example to store data and applications primarily local in your own data center and if necessary to scale in the public cloud.

IaaS represents infrastructure resources such as computing power, storage and network capacity provided as a service, however, PaaS application platforms as a service.

What do you need for a private cloud à la Microsoft?

For building a Microsoft private IaaS environment the Windows Server Hyper-V, Microsoft System Center as well as the Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager Self-Service Portal is required. This allows to provide a dedicated cloud environment, including self-service options.

Beyond that the private cloud services enabling a seamless access to Microsoft public cloud infrastructure Windows Azure. Besides resource scaling this also provides application frameworks and identity management tools to integrate the private with the public cloud based on a hybrid cloud.


Hyper-V is Microsoft’s technology for server virtualization. It is based on the Windows Server 2012 and is the basis of Microsoft private cloud. With that multiple servers can be operate as virtual machines (VMS) on one physical hardware. For this purpose Hyper-V supports different operating systems in parallel, including Windows and Linux on x64 hardware.

System Center

The System Center is the focal point of the private cloud, and assisted in the management of physical, virtual and cloud infrastructure. In addition to the management of a scalable data center infrastructure and mission-critical workloads also the control of standardized processes for the management of the data center and administrative workflows are covered. Furthermore, the System Center Self-Service functions allow users to consume the required IT resources.

Virtual Machine Manager SSP 2.0

The Virtual Machine Manager Self-Service Portal is based on the Windows Server Hyper-V and System Center. This is a free and complete solution with which resources within a data center can be dynamically pooled into groups in order to provide the private cloud with the necessary resources. Furthermore, individual or groups of resources can be assigned to different departments e.g. to deploy virtual machines over a self-service portal.

Combination with Microsoft’s public cloud

Even if the article has sensitized the political influences on the public cloud at the beginning there are still a lot of scenarios where a public cloud can still be considered. It depends on the sensitivity of the data and how a company wants to handle it himself.

The Microsoft private cloud services can also connect with Microsoft’s public cloud to offset any peak loads or improve the cooperation in different regions. Here are a few possibilities.

SharePoint Online & Office 365

If companies want to increase worldwide, the IT must grow as well. For on-premise solutions this represents financial and time challenges. It is easier to connect new locations with cloud solutions to allow employees the same access to documents and applications, such as employees in the central office. Here, SharePoint Online and Office 365 can help. Both allow cross-site collaboration and data sharing between employees in geographically diverse locations.

Exchange Online

Like exchanging data and global cooperation it’s the same when it comes to e-mail. If a company increases nationwide or even global IT decision makers face the same challenges. A Microsoft based private cloud can be extended with Exchange Online to meet the growing storage demand. In addition, employees have a simple URL to access the Exchange services in the private or public cloud.


When you think of Microsoft and databases, you first think about Microsoft Access. People who need more performance use Microsoft SQL Server. Notabene, especially a database server swallows a lot of hardware and requires a lot of performance to meet today’s needs.

An alternative from Microsoft in the cloud is SQL Azure. It is a fully managed SQL Server in Microsoft’s public cloud which is available worldwide.

Application scaling

In times of global networking and the Internet it’s difficult to estimate the required resources for an application. A single marketing campaign can be crucial for the success or failure (Applications collapses under the requests.) of a new service. You can only counteract with significant investments in your own infrastructure, without knowing whether the resources are actually needed or whether they will be even sufficient at all.

Public cloud infrastructures are more dynamic because basically more resources are available than a company usually can have available in it’s own data center. This allows applications in the cloud operate failsafe and scalable during peak loads. If the traffic increases, more resources are automatically added and removed when the rush is over. The application can either be used directly in the public cloud or in private cloud in the first run and, if necessary request additional resources from the public cloud (hybrid cloud).

It should be noted, however, that applications, whether locally or already conceived directly for the cloud, must be developed for the cloud.

By Rene Buest

Rene Buest is Gartner Analyst covering Infrastructure Services & Digital Operations. Prior to that he was Director of Technology Research at Arago, Senior Analyst and Cloud Practice Lead at Crisp Research, Principal Analyst at New Age Disruption and member of the worldwide Gigaom Research Analyst Network. Rene is considered as top cloud computing analyst in Germany and one of the worldwide top analysts in this area. In addition, he is one of the world’s top cloud computing influencers and belongs to the top 100 cloud computing experts on Twitter and Google+. Since the mid-90s he is focused on the strategic use of information technology in businesses and the IT impact on our society as well as disruptive technologies.

Rene Buest is the author of numerous professional technology articles. He regularly writes for well-known IT publications like Computerwoche, CIO Magazin, LANline as well as and is cited in German and international media – including New York Times, Forbes Magazin, Handelsblatt, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Wirtschaftswoche, Computerwoche, CIO, Manager Magazin and Harvard Business Manager. Furthermore Rene Buest is speaker and participant of experts rounds. He is founder of and writes about cloud computing, IT infrastructure, technologies, management and strategies. He holds a diploma in computer engineering from the Hochschule Bremen (Dipl.-Informatiker (FH)) as well as a M.Sc. in IT-Management and Information Systems from the FHDW Paderborn.

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