Microsoft Cloud OS Vision Unfolds With New Products, Services

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2013-01-17

Microsoft Cloud OS Vision Unfolds With New Products, Services

Microsoft recently announced a series of products and services that help outline its Cloud OS vision.

In a Jan. 15 press briefing, Microsoft described how customers and partners can capitalize on cloud opportunities with System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 (SP1), the new Windows Intune, and Windows Azure services for Windows Server. These products help users manage hybrid cloud services and connected devices—including iOS and Android—with greater agility and cost efficiency, Microsoft said.

Also on Jan 15, in a blog post, Michael Park, Microsoft corporate vice president of Server and Tools Marketing, outlined the Microsoft Cloud OS vision to provide customers with one consistent platform for infrastructure, apps and data—spanning customer data centers, hosting-service-provider data centers and the Microsoft public cloud.

Microsoft has been very successful building a business around the concept of an OS, Park said. "And we think an OS will play a more important role in the era of the cloud," he said in a briefing. Park also wrote about the Cloud OS on The Official Microsoft Blog.

"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," Park said in the post. "The foundations of the Cloud OS are Windows Server and Windows Azure, complemented by the full breadth of our technology solutions, such as SQL Server, System Center and Visual Studio. Together, these technologies provide one consistent platform for infrastructure, apps and data that can span your data center, service-provider data centers, and the Microsoft public cloud."

Moreover, "with Windows Server and Windows Azure at its core, the Cloud OS provides a consistent platform across customer data centers, service-provider data centers and the Microsoft public cloud," Park said in a statement. "Powerful management and automation capabilities are key elements of the Cloud OS, taking the heavy lifting out of administration and freeing IT organizations to be more innovative as they embrace hybrid cloud computing and the consumerization of IT."

Microsoft announced the general availability of System Center 2012 Service Pack 1; this update brings the full range of System Center management to Windows Server 2012 for private and hybrid cloud-based computing. It provides a single tool to manage cloud-based applications and resources running in a private, hosted or public cloud.

Using System Center 2012 SP1 with Windows Server 2012, customers can shift from managing data center components separately to delivering resources as a whole, including networking, storage and compute, Microsoft said. Cloud infrastructure capabilities such as multi-tenancy, software-defined networking and storage virtualization are built in and ready for automated, hybrid cloud environments.

With the updated System Center, customers can centrally manage cloud-based applications and resources running in their data centers, on a hosted-service-provider data center or on Windows Azure. By integrating service-provider cloud capacity and management directly into their operations, enterprises can extend their data center capabilities. Administrators can move virtual machines to Windows Azure and manage them from within System Center, based on their needs.

Customers can also use System Center 2012 SP1 to back up their servers to Windows Azure to help protect against data loss and corruption. In addition, SP1 supports Global Service Monitor (GSM), a new Windows Azure-based service available for trial evaluation, which provides Web application performance measurement from a user's perspective. System Center GSM extends the application monitoring capabilities in System Center 2012 SP1 using Windows Azure locations around the globe, giving a true reflection of end-user application experiences. GSM is now available for trial and will be broadly available in March.

Microsoft Cloud OS Vision Unfolds With New Products, Services

Hosting service providers play a key role in the Cloud OS with the opportunity to deliver new solutions, attract more customers and grow revenues. With Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012 SP1, they can build multitenant, massive-scale cloud services that interoperate with customer datacenter operations. For example, System Center 2012 SP1 delivers a Service Provider Foundation API, which hosting partners can use to give customers self-service management of hosted infrastructure and applications.

In addition, Microsoft announced System Center Advisor, a Windows Azure-based management solution that enables IT departments to assess server configurations and proactively avoid problems, help to resolve issues faster and reduce downtime. System Center Advisor is now available to all Microsoft customers, not just those with Software Assurance, the company said.

Microsoft also released Windows Azure technologies that hosting service providers can run on their own Windows Server 2012 infrastructure for high-scale website and virtual machine hosting services. These capabilities are specifically designed for easy incorporation into hosting service providers’ offerings for deployment to their customer bases.

The new Windows Azure services for Windows Server technologies enable hosting service providers to use their Windows Server datacenters to provide the same high-scale web site and virtual machine hosting capabilities announced this past summer in Windows Azure, Microsoft said in a post on the company’s STB News bytes Blog. These capabilities are specifically designed for easy incorporation into hosting service providers’ offerings for deployment to their customer base.

Alan Bourassa, CIO of EmpireCLS, a limousine service, told reporters his company has bought in to the Microsoft Cloud OS vision and enjoys uptime of seven nines while the cloud is helping to generate new revenue streams for the company.  Bourassa said he believes the software as a service (SaaS) model offered through a public cloud could grow to represent and support 40 percent of the company’s revenues within the next three years.

The EmpireCLS cloud service offering, called, is powered by Microsoft private cloud technologies: Microsoft System Center 2012 and Windows Server 2012 with Hyper-V.

“Microsoft made its cloud services more robust while making them simpler to manage,” Bourassa said.

“One of the reasons I believe Microsoft is uniquely positioned to deliver on the promise of the Cloud OS is that our products and services are deeply informed by our first-hand experience in running some of the largest Internet-scale services in the world,” Park said in his post. “Running more than 200 cloud services for over 1 billion customers and 20+ million businesses around the world has taught us – and teaches us in real time – what it takes to architect, build and run applications and services at cloud scale.”

Meanwhile, with the new release of the Windows Intune service and System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1, enterprise customers can centrally manage a full array of PCs, laptops and mobile devices. With one management console, IT organizations can crack the bring-your-own-device challenge, helping ensure secure and productive employee experiences with applications and data on virtually any device, anywhere.

The new Windows Intune cloud-based service and System Center Configuration Manager are a unified PC and mobile device management solution. Together they provide a comprehensive approach to securing and managing the new generation of powerful Windows 8 PCs, Windows RT tablets and Windows Phone 8 smartphones, as well as the diversity of other platforms in today’s modern enterprise, including Android and iOS.

More information about System Center 2012 SP1 is available at, and more information about Windows Intune is available at

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