“Microsoft and Cloud Computing Part 2

What is Cloud Computing”

Private Cloud - Public Cloud - Hybrid Cloud

Complete Transcript of

Chris Henley - Microsoft Interview

On Let’s Talk Computers

Host Alan Ashendorf

July 16 2011

Alan: When a business is considering moving to the Clouds, the first question to have answered is, “What type of Cloud do I want our business to embrace – a Public Cloud or Private Cloud?”

And to help us understand the difference between a Public and Private Cloud, we are continuing our conversation on Cloud Computing with Chris Henley, Senior IT Pro Evangelist with Microsoft. Welcome back to Let’s Talk Computers, Chris.

Chris: Hey, thanks, Alan. It’s always a pleasure.

Alan: If moving to a Cloud environment is not confusing enough already, now businesses have to decide which type of Cloud is the best interest for their company to move to. A Public Cloud or a Private Cloud? No matter what type of Cloud that a business moves to, it’s just as important for a business to look at security.

So Chris, since we are seeing all these data breaches in the news, isn’t it vital that a business knows absolutely the company that they are depending on for Cloud Computing is secure?

Chris: That’s a really good question and it is probably the key question when we start moving into Cloud-based operations.

Let me kind of give you two answers. The first answer is we do have to rely on the company that we are going to have our data hosted with and our applications hosted with. Because of that, Microsoft has taken pretty strong steps in our data centers to make sure that we have stringent securing and compliance measures in place.

The physical security is amazing. The logical security is amazing. We’re really pushing to make sure that we have world-class security so that we can be trusted; and that that’s really important to us.

Second, and this is equally important – when we think about the idea of Cloud-based operations, the Cloud-based operation is not the same as Internet operations. With Cloud what we are trying to do is eliminate some of the platform components that we used to have to build in our own environment and have the stuff that we want to do actually operate in someone else’s data center.

Now not everything that we would have traditionally done inside of our network, do we want to move into the Cloud, sometimes for security reasons - sometimes for performance reasons. When we think about this idea of Cloud, you will hear the terms thrown out – the Public Cloud and we will also hear another term – the Private Cloud.

Now a Private Cloud give us a lot of the flexibility, scalability, elasticity benefits that I would get from having my data and operations hosted in a Public environment, but I get the security benefits that come with building that and owning the physical infrastructure and maintaining that myself.

And so the idea of moving your environment to a Cloud-based approach really has more than just one part. Part of that is a Private approach, where you are going to maintain the things that are of high importance or of a need for high security inside your own organization. You will use that in your own Private Cloud.

The stuff that is of lesser importance in term of security (secured data), etc., you might out into a Cloud-style operation. We actually use both pieces in conjunction with one another and then provide secure connections between our Private Cloud and our Public Cloud so that we get the benefits of both sides.

Alan: Well so many companies find out when they moved to virtualization that the weakest point was the server, itself. If the server went down all the guests went down, regardless whether they are databases or they were web servers, or whatever happened to be running on that physical box. And now everybody is scrambling, trying to get back up again. Because a company, especially in this day and age, if they have an e-commerce presence, customers are not loyal anymore. “Nope, it’s taking too long; I’m out of here! I’ll go somewhere else!”

What happens in the Clouds when, say you can’t get connectivity or you can’t get things working right? Now it’s not just one company down. It’s thousands or maybe millions of companies that are down!

Chris: You know that is a really, really intuitive question. It’s one that I love to answer. When I told you early on in the discussion that back in 2005 we started to switch focus as a company more to the software plus services offering, Microsoft started building data centers.

As per many of the things that we do we didn’t do it on a small scale. If we were to go to http://www.datacenterknowledge.com, they’re a great Web site, talking about data center operations worldwide and I thoroughly enjoy reading their stuff. They keep a list of the top 10 data centers by size in the world.

If you were to check the list today, Microsoft currently has four of them. We are the only person on that list has four of them. We have ones that are located around the United States; Eastern Europe; Asia – all kinds of places; every continent. We’ve built in a data center structure that if you looked at Microsoft from a data center perspective, you would really have a hard time describing us as a software company. You’d say, “Gosh, with that much data center space, this is really a hardware organization we’re talking about.”

We’ve really tried to build in an infrastructure and I think have done so very successfully. Where, if you were to load information, if you were to load an application in data, for example into one of our data centers, the first thing we do is duplicate it and we keep three copies.

Now you get to define where those three copies are going to live and depending on where you are in the world – an example in say Great Britain – Great Britain has an interesting rule where the data has to actually physically live geographically in Great Britain. And so we will actually segment your data among the data center servers that we happen to have in Great Britain.

It’s also nice that one of our largest happens to be in Dublin, Ireland, just west side of Great Britain. So, you have some interesting rules, interesting operational compliance issues around the world. Microsoft has built a physical infrastructure that is strong enough and broad enough to handle just about any scenario that we can conceive of.

So data loss is a big one. Continuity is a big one. We want to make sure that if you are loading an application, let’s say, into Windows Azure environment and you want to be able to have that application running online, it needs to be available all the time. So we can actually stat to pick and choose how Azure responds to say workloads or to say where your workload is coming from. You get a lot of flexibility out of working with all these geographically dispersed data centers that I just could never get before if I were building out my own web server or my own application server, for example.

We really do like the idea of data centers. And Microsoft, as a data center provider, I really believe, and not just because I work here, I really believe they have the best offering of data center and Cloud operations that you can find out there today.

Alan: We’ve been talking about the Public Clouds, the Private Clouds. But what’s the difference between the Public, Private and Hybrid Clouds?

Chris: Oh, that’s a great question – Man! The Private Cloud environment says, “I want to contain the hardware; I want to contain the operating systems; I want to contain the applications and I want to control everything about that Cloud environment.”

Now, the Public Cloud says, “All right, Microsoft’s got a data center. We’ll let them control that. Microsoft’s got a platform called Windows Azure; we’ll let them run that. You know, we’ll write our application, but we’re actually going to store it out on Microsoft Public Data Center and - shoot, let’s store the data there, too!” So everything goes into that Public Cloud environment.

It just doesn’t seem like we would do one or the other. With most of our businesses we kind of work in between those two kind of dramatic inputs. We don’t want everything private, nor do we really want everything public. So the concept here of mixing and matching those choices, we call a Hybrid Cloud.

Now if we were to look at a business today, our assumption would be that, “Yeah, they’ll probably have things that they want to run in their Private Cloud environment. So they will likely build something that is private. They also will probably have things that they want someone else to host for them that are not necessarily mission critical, super top secret privacy things that I want in my Private Cloud, but nor are they totally public things, either.

So we might go with what’s called a Hosted Cloud Solution, somewhere in-between. And then, of course, we will have applications that we want to run from the Public Cloud environment. So we when we start doing that, we say that a business is running sort of a Hybrid Cloud approach. Now, at Microsoft, when we look at a Hybrid Cloud approach, generally what we think of in terms of Hybrid Cloud is actually almost a Private Cloud that someone else is hosting on our behalf.

So what we’ve done is simply created a set of partners. And if you go out to Microsoft’s Web site, you can actually see a recommended set of partners who might play the role of hosting that Private Cloud on your behalf. And the rest of the industry has taken to call that a Hybrid Cloud approach.

It actually is a very good term because it’s pretty descriptive of what we’re really getting. Not quite a Private Cloud, certainly not a Public Cloud environment, somewhere in between, a hybrid of both.

In addition, it’s probably fair to talk about this. When we think about Private Cloud and Public Cloud, they are not mutually exclusive of one another. There is the ability to actually connect the two of them. Now when we do that, because we’re connecting them, security is something we consider pretty heavily.

And so we use a term called the Windows Azure Connect Tools, we actually can connect Private Cloud and Public Cloud. We most often do that associated with data and data transfer between those two Private and Public environments. We do a little bit with administration, but generally speaking from my experience in the past as well as present, I like the self-service portal tools; we’re enhancing those as we go.

Another thing to keep in mind here is that a Cloud is really kind of young in terms of its implementation, its usage. We’re learning a lot as we go here. And I think that’s really a good thing. Microsoft has taken the approach of, “We’re going to start with relatively simple Cloud-based environments and we’re going to build our way up and add more complexity as we go.”

That’s a different approach than we’ve taken in the past from our operating systems. In the past we often developed operating systems that were very complex and we offered the purchase of those operating systems many times a lot more than they actually wanted to implement in their environment. But we’re kind of taking a little bit different approaches as we move into Clouds.

We’re starting simple and then building the complexity into that environment as we go. And I think that’s been beneficial for us. I like what I’m seeing in terms of projects and in terms of really nice, not just cost-savings, but really nice environments that provide offerings that are surprisingly good in terms of performance, functionality, operations, those kinds of things.

Alan: Well, Chris, it looks like we’ve run out time. And today we’ve been looking at what the difference is between a Private Cloud, a Public Cloud, and a Hybrid Cloud. I look forward to continuing this conversation, when we’ll be looking at many of the benefits of using Microsoft Azure for our Cloud Computing next time.

Chris: Sounds good. Thanks again, Alan. It’s always a pleasure.