When it comes to building private clouds, Microsoft is planning to offer customers two ways to go: One using its Windows Azure cloud operating system on forthcoming pre-configured Windows Azure Appliances; and one assembled of various on-premises components atop Windows Server.
On August 15, Microsoft made available the final reannounced availability of the Release Candidate version of one of the building blocks for its latter option. That product -- System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 Self Service Portal 2.0 (note: I am linking here to the cached version that shows the original headline on the blog post) -- is the customer-focused version of what was formerly known as the Dynamic Datacenter Toolkit. It is available from the Microsoft Download Center. (Update: August 17: Even though the team blog made it look as though this was the final version of the portal, in fact, it was not; it's just a reannouncement of the RC. Still no date on when the final will be available.)
The VMMSSP self-service portal is a collection of tools and guidance for building cloud services on top of the Windows Server (rather than the Windows Azure) platform. As Microsoft explains it, VMMSSP is a partner-extensible offering that can be used to "pool, allocate, and manage resources to offer infrastructure as a service and to deliver the foundation for a private cloud platform inside your datacenter." The portal features a dynamic-provisioning engine, as well as a pre-built web-based user interface that "has sectionsfor both the datacenter managers and the business unit IT consumers, with role-based access control," according to a new post on TechNet blogs.
To use the 2.0 Release Candidate version of VMMSSP, users need Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise Edition or Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter Edition; IIS 7.0, Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2, SQL Server 2008 Enterprise Edition or Standard Edition; .Net Framework 3.5 SP1, Message Queuing (MSMQ); and PowerShell 2.0. VMMSSP is not considered to be an upgrade to the existing VMM 2008 R2 self-service portal, according to company officials; users can deploy one or both. The new version, unlike the current VMM 2008 R2 portal, makes virtual machine actions extensible, enabling more customization for particular hardware configurations, according to the aforementioned blog post.
In addition to the new self-service portal and its prerequisites, other pieces of Microsoft's on-premises private-cloud solution include BizTalk Server 2010 and Windows Server AppFabric.