Evolution of Enterprise IT and Virtualization Infrastructures to Private Cloud

I was having lunch with a colleague yesterday and we were talking about the logical evolution underway in IT, which began a couple of years ago with the broad availability of server virtualization technology like Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V. 


With the advent of cloud computing as an infrastructure choice, the evolution crank is again turning, with companies beginning to investigate the technology options available to them.  Private cloud solutions — whether on premise in your own datacenter or off premise (hosted by a partner) — hold the promise of delivering even greater opportunities for efficiency with improved IT automation, elasticity of resources, and deeper capabilities for tracking usage.  Those of you that are already using server virtualization are ahead of the curve in adopting private cloud solutions.


Many of you and your IT organizations began to evaluate and consider server virtualization technology a couple of years ago as a way to move beyond the legacy IT model of having a single operating system instance bound to a single physical server.  If you and your company had already been using Windows Server as your IT infrastructure foundation, the shift to virtualization was a relatively straightforward one once you had moved to Windows Server 2008, since Hyper-V technology is part of that product. With Hyper-V, the benefit is that your IT organization can use their existing knowledge, server infrastructure, and applications in a virtualized environment while taking advantage of the efficiencies the technology provides.


If you’ve moved to Hyper-V already, you’ve likely experienced some of the benefits associated with the consolidation of multiple server workloads onto a single host machine running virtual machines, including reduced costs associated with the physical server footprint and energy use. If you’re not already aware of it, the latest release, Windows Server 2008 R2 with SP1 with Hyper-V, is now available and delivers greater opportunities for efficiencies, adding even more powerful capabilities with the Live Migration, Dynamic Memory, and RemoteFx.


As this move to server virtualization transpired, a coinciding evolution in IT management capabilities needed to occur and we at Microsoft began delivering this years ago with the Microsoft System Center suite, adapting the tools to provide the same management experience across your physical and virtual environments.


We know that customers also frequently have mixed virtualization environments, and for years we have included the capability in the System Center tools to manage across these environments, including those offered by third-party companies such as VMware ESX. There are also other capabilities available to you for addressing the needs of mixed-server virtualization environments, such as the Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) capability to convert VMware VMDK/VMX virtual machines to Microsoft VHD (Virtual Hard Disk) format.


With customers continuing their adoption of Microsoft Hyper-V server virtualization technologies, our competitors have only now begun to acknowledge the need to manage across the complex environments that customers have, as noted in this story on ReadWriteweb.com.  A holistic management experience across the datacenter including physical and virtualized environments is critical to the success of adopting virtualization technologies and setting your organization up for success in the move to the private cloud and building bridges to public cloud offerings, such as Windows Azure. Does your current IT management foundation provide that? Something to consider.


Which brings us to the private cloud…. The net is that there are a couple of paths to the private cloud: starting from scratch (no existing IT infrastructure), jumping from a legacy IT infrastructure (one operating system to one piece of physical hardware), or evolving from a virtualized server infrastructure.


If you’re already using a virtualized server environment delivering basic IT elasticity and scalability, you’re very close to being able to evolve your infrastructure to take advantage of the additional benefits offered by private cloud implementations, such as self-servicing, increased automation and measurement, and deliver your Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). We’ve developed guidance and a set of tools we call Hyper-V Cloud to help you make the move from a basic virtualized environment to a private-cloud, highly optimized environment. Information on this and understanding the benefits of what private cloud has to offer are available at the Hyper-V Cloud site located here.


If you have comments or questions, I look forward to hearing from you in the comments.  If you’re looking for more information on what Microsoft has to offer businesses in the cloud computing space please check out the Cloud Power site as well.


Thanks for your time - larry

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