CRN: “Microsoft Leaps Ahead of VMware in Hybrid Cloud Management”

CRN: “Microsoft Leaps Ahead of VMware in Hybrid Cloud Management”

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From the comments I’ve seen on Twitter and the e-mails hitting my inbox, I know that many of you have seen CRN’s article from last week entitled “Microsoft Leaps Ahead of VMware in Hybrid Cloud Management” – and I want to add a couple thoughts to John Ross’ analysis of the cloud marketplace.

Something that I think John encapsulates well is the emergence of Microsoft as an enterprise-grade provider of private, hosted, and public clouds. This Hybrid IT focus is essential to your modern enterprise infrastructure, and, in the countless conversations I have had with many in the industry – absolutely no one is investing across all these clouds like we are here at Microsoft.

John notes in his article:

Microsoft has made great strides in facilitating hybrid cloud management. As I wrote last month, the key to cloud management is the ability for channel partners to manage multiple clouds. This is an area where VMware still has a lot of work to do since its vCloud suite only supports the VMware platform.

In contrast, Microsoft has enabled an ecosystem of partners to develop plugins and extension to its Systems Center product, which enables visibility across any cloud platform. Once you can see, you can manage, and once you can manage, you can recommend and consume. […]

Microsoft is clearly serious about the virtualization space, and its support of cross-hypervisor solutions goes right to the heart of cloud management.

A big promise underlying this look ahead is the idea of a consistent environment across clouds for both IT Pros and Developers. This is an area where Microsoft is incredibly unique: The seamless environment that we deliver today is something that has been refined after years of operation and investment in both Windows Azure and private/hosted clouds.

To give you an idea of Azure’s continued growth, consider these figures:

  • In the last 6 months the available Azure storage and compute has doubled.
  • There are currently over 200,000 Azure customers, with 1,000 more being added daily.
  • Over 50 new Azure services have been added in the last 12 months, including the huge new IaaS for Windows Azure (which includes our Virtual Machine and Virtual Network capabilities). 
  • Windows Azure Active Directory now has over 2.9 million tenants and it has completed over 265 billion authentications to date – all while maintaining a 90 day average uptime of 99.97%.

TechCrunch and many others are picking up on how these new services are challenging Amazon -- and it is incredibly exciting to offer enterprise customers a choice between on-premise, cloud, service-provider, and hybrid solutions. These options represent a huge departure from AWS’s current approach, and a much better solution to today’s IT challenges. 

These types of technical advances are possible because every single day our engineers are building, deploying and operating the cloud platform and the 200+ services that both consumers and commercial customers around the world rely on to keep their business operational. Talk about an incredible learning opportunity! And we are learning incredible things every day – things that get rolled back into our products and services. The benefits are seen in the constant updates we make to Windows Server, System Center, and SQL Server, and we regularly deploy and operate multiple large clouds inside of Microsoft that we use to run our own business. The products we deliver to you to run in your datacenters are simply better because of our experience building and operating Azure.

Of all the clouds used here at Microsoft, one of the most interesting is the cloud that we use every single day for our testing and validation of Windows Server, System Center, SQL Server and Visual Studio. In this cloud there are, on any given day, 50,000+ VM’s running with automated tests being executed from teams (tenants) across these products. On an average day, we hydrate and dehydrate more than 30,000 VM’s, and, on a single day in the first week of March 2013, we hydrated more than 80,000 VM’s in this private cloud. And it all runs on Hyper-V. Because all of our tests/validation run in this cloud, we have developed an incredibly high SLA that is offered to the engineering team – and you better believe that if that SLA is not met, our engineers let us know.

Why does an internal apparatus like this matter? Why do we talk so much about consistency across clouds? The answer is really straightforward: It is about simplicity and the ability for you to do what is right for your business. If you have consistency across clouds you can have VM and service mobility, and you can make decisions about where you want to host your services based upon the needs of the business and not based on technology limitations.

There are currently solutions on the market that promise the ability to migrate VMs across clouds (and we will certainly continue to invest here), but if your clouds are all based on the same format, have consistent APIs, and use consistent management… life is a lot more simple. That is why this matters.

To witness this principle of consistency across clouds in action, consider how thoroughly Azure is integrated into the work we are doing with Windows Server. A very recent example of this was on display during my keynote at MMS 2013. Out of the six demos presented during my remarks, five featured deep Azure integration. If you haven’t been able to view these demos yet, take the time to see them for yourself – it’s pretty amazing how seamlessly they work together, and how simple we enable multi-cloud scenarios.

One of the ‘big picture’ takeaways from CRN’s article is the idea of investing at scale in both public and private clouds – and I can’t overstate how important it is for every organization and IT team to talk about how this applies to their own operational needs.

As these discussions take place in IT departments around the world, I think there are a couple really interesting things to keep in mind. First, Microsoft is leading the way for a good reason: All, the software that powers both our public and private clouds is the same, making management and operation dramatically more simple, while maintaining enterprise-grade scalability and performance. Second, Microsoft is currently the only company that is building these experiences at an enterprise scale and packaging our massive knowledge base back into the Windows software you already know and love.

This kind of promise is rare in the industry, and it makes the work we’re doing with our customers incredibly exciting.

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  • It's a little misleading to say that, "the software that powers both our public and private clouds is the same."  Yes, they share common underpinnings, such as Hyper-V, but Windows 2012 and Azure are different operating systems.  What's important is the consistency of experience Microsoft offers as people transition from the public to the private cloud.

  • Thanks for your comment.  Microsoft’s Cloud OS vision is about delivering one platform that supports any combination of private, hybrid and public cloud computing.  This is a really unique perspective in the IT industry, and Microsoft is currently the only technology company that can offer this.  Today, there are far more commonalities than differences between Windows Azure and Windows Server.  But, even more importantly, at the end of the day they are both Windows and both run Hyper-V – and, as you say, the key is that they share consistent technologies and experiences across virtualization, management, identity, app development, database, etc.