Test drive the Windows Cloud OS for free

Microsoft has as strong focus on the hybrid cloud: a mixture of public and private cloud infrastructures. The vision is delivered by solutions like Windows Azure, Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012 SP1.

Azure and Windows Server 2012 bring in the hypervisor part, System Center 2012 sP1 the management of virtual machines running on one or both hypervisors. These solutions provide customers with one consistent platform for infrastructure, apps, and data – spanning customer datacenters, hosting service provider datacenters, and the Microsoft public cloud.

To enable a consistent user interface for the self service portal when Windows Server 2012 is used, the Azure Services for Windows Server are used. This has a Service Management Portal and Service Management API which turns a cloud based on Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V into the Azure look and feel and API-connectivity.


Microsoft has a blog published in January 2013 explaining what Cloud OS exactly is.

Amsio, managed hosting provider, lauched the first  private cloud in Europe based on Microsoft Windows Cloud OS at February 6 2013. Amsio offers a free three month trial of this private cloud. Included is the use of two full virtual private servers running Linux or Windows and 100 GB of high performance storage.

Register for the trial at http://testthecloud.nl/Index.aspx

A look into Microsoft Windows Azure datacenters

Microsoft Windows Azure is hosted in 8 datacenters located at different locations worldwide. Those locations are:

US North Central – Chicago, IL
US South Central – San Antonio, TX
West Europe – Amsterdam
North Europe – Dublin
East Asia – Hong Kong
South-East Asia – Singapore

Each datacenter is paired with a datacenter in the same regio. Data is asynchronous copied between the pairs. 13 new datacenters are under construction at the moment.

Microsoft has spent $2.5bn on its six Azure data centres.

Azure is using rackmounted servers. Servers are placed in racks. A set of of racks are placed in a container with cooling. Each container unit contains around 2500 servers and a whole datacentre has 360,000 servers.

Azure Data Center Container

The datacenters are heavily automated. There are just 12 staff members working in 3 shifts per 24 hour:  9 armed security guards and 3 administrators.

In total Azure consists of 100,000’s of servers. The capacity is expected to overdouble in the next year to 1.5. Microsoft was surprised by the demand for Azure. Deployments of servers are done 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days per year.

Most of the code running on the servers is C++ which will be converted to C# in the future. The fabric controller software is written in C# (c-sharp)

Windows Azure Network Operations  is the department which monitors the Azure platform. One is located in India and the other is located at the Microsoft campus in Seattle. Two persons in the Network Operations center monitors all the Azure servers worldwide.

Here’s a 10 min video from Microsoft describing the ‘Microsoft Cloud’ and the Windows Azure data centers – with emphasis on their modular approach, energy efficiency, and sustainability.

This video shows one of the containers having Dell servers. Video was tapes in 2009. Here is another, 15 minutes video showing a Guided Tour inside the Windows Azure Cloud with Patrick Yantz

Thanks Mark Wilson for some of the information.

Is Windows Azure Virtual Machines (WAVM) a true IaaS plattform? Microsoft drops SLA on single role instances.

Microsoft introduced a new service on Windows Azure named Virtual Machines. Using this service also advertised as  feature, Windows Azure customers are able  to manage and are resposible for  the operating system. Virtual Machines allows a deployment of a virtual machine using a cataloge or upload a self made VHD file.
This enables developers to run applications on their platform of choice. The PaaS platform which Microsoft offers on Azure does not have a choice of the operating system running underneath the development tools.

Microsoft Azure Virtual  Machines is currently running in a Preview version. This can be compared to a Beta status. At the annoucement of the Virtual Machines feature back in June 2012 Microsoft offered two SLA’s for availability of the virtual machines. 99.9 % for single role virtual machines and 99.95 % for multiple role instances.  A single role instance is a *single* VM presenting an application. If the VM becomes unavailable (crash of guest, crash of host etc), the application becomes unavailable as well. A multiple role instance has at least two VMs offering the same application. A load balancer distributes application requests over the available VMs.

Read more of this post

TechEd North America 2011 sessions online

Microsoft will publish all sessions given at TechEd North America 2011 in May 2011 on internet! Those sessions can be viewed for free for everyone! Microsoft is delivering a great service to anyone interested in Microsoft solutions.

Sessions can be viewed online about 24 hours after the session in Atlanta ended.

See the sessions at the Channel9 website here.

Sessions on virtualization can be found here

An overview of PowerPoint slides, videos can be found here.

Some interesting looking sessions:

WSV302 iSCSI and Windows Server: Getting Best Performance, High-Availability and Better Virtualization

Microsoft recently released it’s free iSCSI Software Target. Very handy for demo, study and small production sites.
WSV313 Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3 for Application Storage, Diskless Boot, and More!

VIR327 Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track: A Reference Architecture for Private Cloud

SIM336 Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012: Server Fabric Lifecycle, Part 1 – Configuring Networking and Storage

SIM211 Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012: What’s in It, and How It Enables the Building of Private Clouds and Federation to the Public Cloud

VIR309 Hyper-V R2 Healthcheck (Configuration and Performance)

Transfer a virtual machine to Microsoft Azure

If your are running a Windows Server 2008 R2 virtual machine on Hyper-V, it is possible to transfer it Microsoft Azure platfrom. Azure is a Platform as a Service (PaaS) platform. Customers can develop and run applications on Azure. Recently Microsoft made it possible to upload virtual machines to Azure. Currently only virtual machines running on Windows Server 2008 R2 can be tranfered to Azure. Mind the Azure platform is not targeted as a Infrastructure as a Service platform. The possibility to upload a complete virtual machine enables customers to develop and run more applications not limited to SQL or Sharepoint.

See this blogposting describing the steps for transfering a virtual machine to Azure.

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