Microsoft invited press from 6 countries and more than 20 publications, to a reviewer’s workshop on “Day 0” before TechEd 2010 gets under way and ahead of product announcements in the coming week. The workshop focused on the cloud and the next generation data center; attendees signed NDAs to so they could learn about a few cool products in the pipeline. Bill Laing, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Windows Server and Solutions Division, kicked off the day commenting on lessons learned from operating data centers at huge scale such as benefiting from economies of scale, automation and creating more flexible environments. He noted that the workforce is changing and is becoming much more mobile; a major trend is the consumerization of IT and the self-provisioning of IT through online services. Consumers these days are more sophisticated in use of technology and multiple devices, and they have much higher expectations of IT.
Laing defined cloud computing as “just in time provisioning and scaling of services on shared hardware. This accelerates the speed and lowers the cost of IT.” He said that there’s a “cacophony of noise around the cloud.”Microsoft, for example, runs a datacenter and they build and operate a cloud. Microsoft’s customers can also run this technology themselves. Laing stressed that the cloud is physically located in the data center where one rents space.
The Microsoft cloud experience is based on the familiar Windows Server and and SQL Server technologies partners and customers already know. There’s one identity system based on Active Directory and there’s one management infrastructure—System Center. ISVs build applications and websites for the cloud using the same Visual Studio toolset and .NET Framework they already develop with.
From their experience with creating a cloud platform Laing says that they’ve distilled a few key learnings: The cloud platform brings three major technology changes: Hardware purchasing will be different. The data center “mainframe” of the future is 1,000 times more powerful at a fraction of the cost. The application model is evolving—developers want to quickly deliver highly available, secure and infinitely scalable applications so end-users can have a better experience anywhere on any device. The new operations model is resilient to hardware and software failure, including 24x7 availability with 9 to 5 management and automated datacenters operating with fewer people.