While some organizations are using public cloud services for specific applications such as Sales Force Automation, most organizations will start their move to the cloud with a private cloud effort. Over time, they will migrate more and more of their critical applications to public cloud services. Thus, for the foreseeable future, the majority of IT departments will need to manage a hybrid cloud environment.
Unfortunately, some legacy virtualization and management solutions simply do not offer the capabilities and features that will ensure a successful transition to such a cloud-based operation.
What organizations need are solutions that let them deploy, manage, and migrate applications to public, hybrid or private clouds as requirements change over time. To address these requirements, Microsoft has developed an approach based on what it calls the Cloud operating system (OS).
Required Characteristics of a Cloud Solution
When preparing for a hybrid cloud environment, organizations need solutions that offer a common core of characteristics to ensure application performance levels are met, management duties do not grow, resources are used efficiently and maximum flexibility is afforded.
To start, any solution today must offer enterprise-class virtualization and a cloud platform that provides the scalability and availability to meet business needs. The solution must support large numbers of virtual machines (VMs), offer rapid provisioning and deployment features, monitoring and optimization capabilities to meet service-level agreements (SLAs), and resiliency features to reduce downtime and ensure high availability.
While some virtualization solutions help in these areas, a true differentiator for the move to cloud is support for application portability. This will let organizations run applications on an on-premises private and public cloud or cloud service.
Other key characteristics include:
--a hypervisor that supports integration with cloud-based services and the building out of hybrid environments;
--incorporation of storage and network provisioning to help optimize their use based on application workloads;
--service automation capabilities, including automated provisioning and deployment to drive down costs;
--support for heterogeneous data center environments to allow use of the best solutions based on business requirements;
--multi-hypervisor management to allow lines of business to make use of the most suitable technology for their needs, while easing IT chores when it comes to management and VM migration between private and public clouds; and
--monitoring capabilities that provide deep insight into applications and workloads to deliver predictable SLAs.
These features and capabilities can help improve resource utilization, simplify the delivery of IT services and reduce IT staff management chores in a hybrid cloud environment. Many of these characteristics are found in higher-end virtualization and cloud management solutions. But the primary difference between legacy solutions and one that is ideal for today's mixed and dynamic cloud environments is one that addresses the mobility of VMs within a private cloud and to and from a public cloud or cloud service.
Microsoft Cloud OS, based on Windows Server® and Windows Azure™, tries to address the challenges of moving to this type of dynamic cloud architecture. With Microsoft Cloud OS, Windows Server and Windows Azure are complemented by other solutions, such as System Center and Hyper-V®. Together, these technologies provide a consistent platform for infrastructure, applications and data that can span an enterprise data center, service provider data centers and the Microsoft Azure public cloud.