Contoso Labs-Introduction

Welcome to a new series here on the Building Clouds Blog: Contoso Labs.  A new post in this series will run every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. 

What is Contoso Labs?

Contoso Labs is a project that is being undertaken by our team in Windows Server and System Center (WSSC) with the intent of bringing more real-world operational experience into the product development cycle. The goal of it is to build out a full hosting provider cloud the way we recommend customers do so, then operate that cloud over time with real users in order to gather as much experience and expertise as possible in the ongoing use and maintenance of our on-premises software.

We’re not trying to build another Azure here. Azure is a highly specialized service that manages hundreds of thousands of nodes and dozens of datacenters around the world. What we’re doing is creating the kind of cloud that any IT shop might want to build. If your organization has realized that the cloud is the future of IT, but has requirements to keep some resources in local IT’s control, a hybrid cloud is your best friend. We want to help you build that.

Our cloud is in the process of being built from the ground up right now. Over the following months, we’ll cover everything we can think of about how we’re building it, why we designed it that way, tips on how to design your own cloud, practical experiences, and a whole lot more. I’m not just talking about the software experience either; I mean from the ground up. Designing a rack layout, a wiring topology, network edge, switch configurations…the works.

We’re going to tackle this from the perspective of a new IT business being built from the ground up with a hybrid cloud as their primary service. No hypotheticals here…everything we talk about is happening in a real physical place, to service real users. That means that not all of the information will have a direct translation into your scenarios, but we hope you’ll learn useful ideas on how to think about these problems as a result.

Those loyal Building Clouds readers will notice a difference in tone in some of these posts, at least a first. The first thing we had to do before deploying a single thing was evaluate our project and make a lot of decisions. If there were a PowerShell script that could have helped there, we would have used it. Sadly though, that was not the case. That means we’ll be talking about how to THINK about building clouds for a while. Stick with us though, and when deployment times come we’ll get into some gritty details that will make fellow server nerds smile.

I hope you’ll join us on this journey and provide feedback along the way. Since this is an ongoing effort, feedback from folks like you can and will make its way back into our architecture and service structure. We’re responsible to keep this thing going, and good advice is always welcome from anywhere.