Microsoft Unveils Cloud Offerings for TechEd Europe

Microsoft has unveiled new and recent cloud offerings for business at its TechEd Europe, which begins Nov. 8 in Berlin.

Microsoft has unveiled Hyper-V Cloud, a series of tools for corporations interested in building and deploying a private cloud. This represents yet another facet of the company's "all in" cloud strategy, in which it seeks to purvey any number of online products and services to enterprises looking to shift their IT away from on-premises.

Microsoft's announcements came in conjunction with the company's TechEd Europe 2010, which began Nov. 8 in Berlin.

The offerings include Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track, a series of reference architectures developed in conjunction with Dell, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Hewlett-Packard, NEC and IBM. Those predefined configurations for private clouds, in theory, allow for faster deployment.

In addition, Microsoft is also touting its Hyper-V Cloud Service Provider Program, in which 70 service providers will fully host companies' cloud infrastructure. Alternatively, those companies wanting to build their own private clouds will have the ability to use Hyper-V Cloud Deployment Guides, which offer tools and guidance.

Those customers could also utilize Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager Self-Service Portal 2.0, which allows them to manage resources dedicated to the private cloud; that application layers atop Windows Server 2008 R2, Hyper-V and System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2. For endpoint security, they can use Forefront Endpoint Protection 2010, providing desktop-security management through existing client management infrastructure.

Monitoring other parts of the system-such as applications and services-comes courtesy of the Windows Azure Application Monitoring Management Pack, which Microsoft intends as "a complement to the new Windows Azure portal announced at PDC," according to a press release issued by the company. It is available as a Release Candidate at this site. When it comes to virtualizing applications, administrators and IT pros are also being offered Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) 4.6 SP1, which allows App-V to convert applications' installation files directly into an App-V virtual application; general availability is expected in the first quarter of 2011.

Microsoft has also made what the company terms "significant investments" in customers' and partners' cloud-related assessments, proofs-of-concept and production deployment.

As businesses debate whether to make the leap from primarily on-premises computing to the cloud, various tech companies are aligning their own offerings to take advantage of that paradigm shift. Some companies are embracing the public cloud model, where businesses subscribe to online services and store their information on the host's servers; CEO Marc Benioff has often touted this model as ideal, most recently during an Oct. 19 keynote talk at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2010 in Orlando, Fla.

Other companies seem more interested in offering a "private cloud," which IT vendors argue offers greater flexibility and security. Oracle recently unveiled its Exalogic Elastic Compute Cloud, a "cloud in a box" system that allows customers to implement self-contained cloud environments using on-premises hardware.

Microsoft's "all in" strategy, however, seems to straddle the line between public and private clouds. In addition to Windows Azure, its cloud-based developer platform, Microsoft also plans to cloud-host IT services such as Office 365, which allows organizations to stay up-to-date with the latest versions of Microsoft Office, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online.