Worried about having to implement lots of new software to build your private cloud? You may not have to. Enterprises that have standardized on Windows Server 2008 R2 are, like as not, already running all the building blocks they need to configure a private cloud. And that foundation will extend as your cloud computing ambitions grow. That's because Microsoft is leveraging the skills and technology investments you've already made to build a familiar and consistent platform across traditional, private and public cloud environments. At its core, our private cloud requires three pillars:

By using these three building blocks as your foundation, you not only get a powerful private cloud infrastructure, you also benefit from the deep integration and ecosystem that Microsoft provides, including future product and platform features as well as detailed guidance and training.

You'll also be able to more easily bridge the gap between private and public cloud computing. Microsoft's identity (Active Directory), management (System Center) and developer (.Net and Visual Studio) technologies span across traditional, private and public cloud environments, helping to keep current your infrastructure and in-house applications as cloud computing evolves. This evolution will likely incorporate solutions from third-party vendors; for example, with the System Center suite, Microsoft enables you to manage across hypervisors from multiple vendors today. That means you can build your private cloud environment on existing infrastructure across multiple vendors, including Microsoft and VMware.

The key to turning your current Windows Server 2008 R2, Hyper-V and System Center installations into a private cloud foundation is guidance - and we're providing a lot of it. Get an overview on building a private cloud here; then check out the Hyper-V Cloud programs mentioned in the post below. With this program you can get deployment guides, pre-validated configurations and even cloud-savvy service providers. And don't forget to check out Windows Azure for resources on combining your private cloud with the power of public cloud computing. Check back often as we'll be providing more information, IT Pro guidance and customer success stories over the next several months.