Microsoft ready to unveil new public-private cloud-migration tools, strategy

Microsoft is readying new server and management products to help the company shore up its private-to-public cloud-migration story.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor on

Microsoft is close to announcing some new migration tools and strategies designed to help customers to move from the private cloud to the public cloud.

Company officials have been hinting for months that changes around Active Directory were on tap. On November 15, Robert Youngjohns, President of Microsoft North America Sales, made it even clearer that something big is in the works during his recent appearance at the UBS Global Technology & Services Conference. From a transcript of Youngjohns remarks:

"I think our emerging strategy on how we migrate from private cloud to public cloud is the thing you should watch over the coming weeks and months.

"Satya Nadella, who is the president of the Server and Tools Business, is making some pretty fundamental changes there. He's announced his direction on that. But I think the full roadmap will come out over the coming weeks. And I think that's an exciting move.

"So, going head-to-head on who has the better piece of virtualization software is probably not the winning play here. The winning play here is to focus on systems management, and to focus on how you bridge from private cloud into public cloud going forward.  And I think we're well placed on those."

On the management front, Microsoft is putting the finishing touches on the 10 or so different systems management products that comprise the System Center 2012 suite. Microsoft is looking to launch the entire suite in March April 2012 at the Microsoft Management Summit, I'm hearing.

One of the new System Center 2012 point products is System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) 2012. SCVMM is the "private cloud" piece of Microsoft's server application virtualization story. Microsoft officials also reconfirmed earlier this year that the company is planning to add VM role functionality to its public-cloud platform, Windows Azure.

Server App-V technology is of potential interest to both private- and public-cloud customers because it could help in moving legacy applications into the cloud. Server application virtualization would be like Microsoft’s existing client-side App-V product; it would allow customers to package applications into virtual containers, each of which would be storable and maintainable as a self-contained stateless environment.

There also could be a component of Microsoft's coming private-to-public cloud migration plans that involves work the Server and Tools unit is doing around identity and access synchronization. A Microsoft job description mentions new "synchronization services" that the company is building to move more customers of all sizes to Microsoft-hosted public-cloud services like Office 365 and Exchange Online and SharePoint Online. From that recent post:

"We are building synchronization services that can easily scale from very small customers buying services for a few hundred employees, to world-wide enterprises and governments with millions of accounts. This service will provide seamless account migration, and ongoing synchronization for customers that wish to continue operating some services locally, while taking advantage of the Microsoft service offerings in the cloud."

In the longer term, Microsoft is making changes to Active Directory in Windows Server 8. As Nadella noted in an October 21 interview with LeJournalduNet, Microsoft is aiming to make Windows Server a better foundational piece for private cloud datacenters. From that interview (English translation), Nadella said:

"(Active Directory) is a standard deployed by almost all companies to manage rights and policies for access to the information system. We are changing this brick to reflect the Cloud. This is to allow companies to manage through this policy and access rights, both on the perimeter of the internal information system, but also on the Cloud both public and private sectors."

Microsoft's goal is to manage all access, privilege management and security policies from a single directory, Nadella said. Users can do this already with Active Directory and the integrated identity management functionality in Office 365, Nadella told LeJournalduNet.

Nadella also hinted that some of the coming functionality in Windows Server 8 may allow customers to run their own public clouds in their own datacenters. (I'm wondering if this strategy is meant to replace Microsoft's Windows Azure Appliance offering which is still largely missing in action -- except for Fujitsu's implementation.) In the LeJournalduNet interview, Nadella said:

"With Windows Server 8, we will provide all the capabilities of Windows Azure to allow an operator or a company to deploy its own public cloud. Example, you can get the latest enhancements we have made ​​in the management of Hyper-V instances, particularly in terms of resource consumption processors. But also through the virtualization management plans for disaster recovery activities, and access to opportunities for network virtualization that are fundamental in the management operations of a data center."

Here's to hoping Microsoft will start talking roadmaps again around its public-cloud platform. It's been more than a year since the Softies shared the company's latest planned feature list for Azure....

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