Microsoft announced the Cloud OS Network, a group of more than 25 cloud services providers that are leveraging the company's Windows Server software ecosystem to help businesses around the world float their own hybrid clouds.
Cloud OS Network builds on the company's efforts to transition its venerable Windows Server enterprise OS offerings into a cloud-enabled software foundation. During its launch on Sept. 4, 2012, Microsoft dubbed Windows Server 2012 the "Cloud OS."
The company followed up in early 2013 by announcing additional components to help flesh out its Cloud OS vision, namely System Center 2012 Service Pack 1, Windows Intune and Windows Azure services for Windows Server. "At the highest level, the Cloud OS does what a traditional operating system does—manage applications and hardware—but at the scope and scale of cloud computing," stated Michael Park, Microsoft corporate vice president of Server and Tools Marketing, in an official blog post at the time of the announcement.
Windows Server and Windows Azure form the basis for Cloud OS, which is "complemented by the full breadth of our technology solutions, such as SQL Server, System Center and Visual Studio," said Park. He added that "the Cloud OS provides a consistent platform across customer data centers, service-provider data centers and the Microsoft public cloud."
Today, those ambitions go global with Cloud OS Network.
Cloud OS Network consists of "a worldwide consortium of more than 25 cloud service providers delivering services built on the Microsoft Cloud Platform: Windows Server with Hyper-V, System Center and the Windows Azure Pack," said Microsoft in press remarks. According to Microsoft, partner companies include Capgemini, CGI, Fujitsu Ltd., iWeb, Lenovo, Outsourcery, SingTel, and Triple C Cloud Computing, among several others.
In total, Microsoft's Cloud OS Network will operate in 90 markets and serve more than 3 million customers. It will run out of 425 data centers and will be used to manage over 2.4 million servers in aggregate.
"This announcement represents important progress against our goals and strategy for Cloud OS," said Microsoft's Takeshi Numoto, corporate vice president of Cloud and Enterprise Marketing. "Here at Microsoft, we think we’re the best bet for customers because we alone provide a consistent, enterprise-grade platform that is hybrid by design, and one that is based on our experience delivering more than 200 cloud services to billions of people," added Numoto.
Microsoft is pitted against other tech titans in the intensely competitive cloud computing market.
E-tailer Amazon made an early bet on the cloud and has become an IT behemoth in its own right. The company's expansive cloud services portfolio, including its S3 storage, AWS (Amazon Web Services) and ECS (Elastic Compute Cloud) infrastructure as a service (IaaS) offerings have given rise to a massive cloud and software as a service (SaaS) ecosystem powered by the company's data centers.
Other companies have since thrown their hat into the ring. IBM, Rackspace and Accenture are among several IT companies that are vying for a chunk of corporate IT as enterprises increasingly adopt hybrid cloud strategies.