Windows Server 8 Embraces Private Clouds

Microsoft's forthcoming Windows Server 8 promises to meld server technologies with services in the cloud--at least that is the theme that was presented by Microsoft’s Jeff Woolsey, the principal program manager lead for the Server and Cloud Division.

September 15, 2011

3 Min Read
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Microsoft’s forthcoming Windows Server 8 promises to meld server technologies with services in the cloud--at least that is the theme that was presented by Microsoft’s Jeff Woolsey, the principal program manager lead for the company's Server and Cloud Division.

At a recent private reviewers workshop event for the technology press, Woolsey gave a presentation under NDA titled "Windows Server 8--The Definitive Program for Cloud," and demonstrated the cloud-focused features of Windows Server 8 (WS8). The presentation and demonstration showed Microsoft’s commitment to the cloud and focused heavily on how easy it will be to build private clouds with WS8.

Woolsey stressed several of the key tenants of deploying a hosted private cloud and covered subjects such as manageability, availability, mobility, storage and networking. He drilled down further into multitenancy, security and quality of service.

Woolsey’s demonstration included some of the new capabilities that will be offered by WS8 for the cloud market. Most notable were the enhancements to Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtualization platform. Now, some may wonder why Hyper-V is important for private cloud deployments. Well, in Microsoft’s case, Hyper-V proves to be the way to "isolate" cloud services and even assign priority to those services by managing the virtual environment hosting the cloud service.

To that end, Microsoft has revamped what Hyper-V is all about, reducing the resources needed, improving performance and increasing support for virtual machines. With Hyper V's ability to scale, Microsoft has created a server environment that allows private clouds to be posted independently on the same hardware. Hyper V can now support as many as 160 logical processors, 2 Tbyes of RAM, as many as 32 virtual processors per virtual machine and as much as 512 Gbytes of memory for virtual machines.

There are significant improvements to the networking stack and storage capabilities, as well, which helps to cement Hyper-V as the virtualization platform of choice for those building private clouds on Windows server technology. One of the more important enhancements is the adoption of NUMA (non-uniform memory access), which helps virtual hosts scale the number of cores and memory needed, while partitioning cores and memory into nodes. Ideally, NUMA minimizes cross-node memory access and improves performance.

While much of the above is academic when it comes to private clouds, the underlying benefits make it easier to build and maintain private clouds that support complete independence from each other. To that end, WS8 will have the ability to isolate hardware errors and prevent poisoning between virtual machines. The goal is to prevent failure of active systems and avoid disasters, such as service interruptions due to non-related failures.

Continuing the theme of simplification, which benefits the creation of cloud-based services, Microsoft has also delved into improving the performance and ease of use of storage subsystems, with the goal of making virtual infrastructures highly scalable yet easy to manage. Some of these improvements include live storage migration, virtual Fibre Channel, a new virtual hard disk format called VHDX, and online metaoperations such as live VHD merge and VM streaming. Those changes allow cloud provisioning and scaling to take place with little or no disruption to live operations.

The list of improvements goes on, and the changes noted could fill technical tomes. But at the very least Microsoft has demonstrated a commitment to the cloud and improvements in the underlying technology that will make it easier to build private clouds, create hybrid clouds and access public clouds--all under the guise of Windows Server 8.

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