Microsoft officials have been big on promises but slow on delivery, in terms of the company's private-cloud offerings. However, it looks like the Redmondians are ready to talk more about a couple of key components of that strategy -- including the Windows Server AppFabric component, as well as forthcoming BizTalk Server releases.
Microsoft has scheduled an "Application Infrastructure Virtual Launch Event" for May 20. According to a new post on the .Net Endpoint blog, "The event will focus on how your current IT assets can harness some of the benefits of the cloud, bringing them on-premises, while also connecting them to new applications and data running in the cloud."
Windows Server AppFabric is the new name for several Windows infrastructure components, including the “Dublin” app server and “Velocity” caching technology. In March, Microsoft officials said to expect Windows Server AppFabric to ship in the third calendar quarter of 2010. Microsoft last month made available the final version of Windows Azure AppFabric, which is the new name for Microsoft's .Net Services (the service bus and access control services pieces) of its cloud-computing platform.
BizTalk Server -- Microsoft's integration server -- also is slated for a refresh this year, in the form of BizTalk Server 2010. That release will add support for Windows Server 2008 R2, SQL Server 2008 R2 and Visual Studio 2010, plus a handful of other updates. Company officials have said Microsoft also is working on a new “major” version of BizTalk, which it is calling BizTalk Server vNext. This release will be built on top of Microsoft’s Windows AppFabric platform. So far, the Softies have not provided a release target for BizTalk Server vNext.
Microsoft officials have been articulating the company's private-cloud play in pieces over the past year or so.
Microsoft officials said last year that they considered a number of the technologies the company delivered as part of Windows Server 2008 R2 to be elements of the company's private cloud platform. Things like live-migration support for Hyper-V; larger VM support (for 32 and 64-bit VMs with up to 64GB of memory per VM); and the ability to boot from VHD and clustered shared volumes were on that short list. Microsoft execs also have said management tools like Virtual Machine Manager, which help provide automated provisioning of compute resources, also are key to Microsoft's private cloud platform.
The most prominent private-cloud deliverable from the company is its Dynamic Datacenter Toolkit (one version for enterprises and one for hosters). The former is a bunch of tools, service-level agreements and tech and marketing guidance to help IT users deploy Microsoft products in their datacenters; the latter is the same kinds of tools and guidance aimed at hosting partners developing on-demand managed services.
While there was confusion last year as to whether Microsoft would offer some kind of Windows Azure variant for enterprises to host in their own datacenters, that isn't happening. The Windows Server and Azure teams have been sharing code and knowledge. One Microsoft official said last year that Microsoft’s ultimate goal is to make the Azure Services platform and an enterprise data center “technically speaking, largely indistinguishable.”
Microsoft also is planning to provide enterprise customers with customized cloud-computing containers, at some point. There's also Project Sydney -- technology that enables customers to connect securely their on-premises and cloud servers. Microsoft has said little about Sydney since the Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in the fall of 2009. But some of the underlying technologies that are enabling it include IPSec, IPV6 and Microsoft’s Geneva federated-identity capability (which is expected to be released to the Web this week).
Sydney could be used for a variety of applications, such as allowing developers to fail over cloud apps to on-premises servers or to run an app that is structured to run on both on-premises and cloud servers, for example. Sydney was slated to go to beta in early 2010 and go final in 2010, last we heard.