Microsoft simplifies private cloud deployments, licensing

Software giant to shake up private cloud space in Asia-Pacific with tools to aid in deployment and management across various cloud environments as well as competitive licensing plans, states exec.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

Microsoft has given companies in the Asia-Pacific region looking to or in the midst of deploying private cloud more food for thought with the unveiling of its System Center 2012 offering, as it looks to reduce the complexity of setting up such System and managing apps across different operating environments, an executive pointed out.

Antoine Aguado, senior director of private cloud and server at Microsoft Asia-Pacific, said that there is increasing complexity in the datacenter space as IT-as-a-service becomes more of a reality, which requires a more "app-centric" approach in management.

He added during a phone interview with ZDNet Asia on Thursday that IT heads and CIOs are no longer just required to provide infrastructure planning, but face "big pressure" to deliver apps in a timely fashion as well. As such, even as these companies move toward either private or hybrid cloud deployments, he believes that System Center 2012 will help make these implementations "faster and more economical".

"Companies can now have seamless management of their apps across various cloud operating environments, whether it is public, private or hybrid," Aguado said.

Microsoft announced the offering on Tuesday and said System Center 2012 integrates eight separate component products into one, streamlining installation and reducing the time it takes to deploy from days down to hours. The number of product versions has also been simplified, so customers can choose between the Standard and Datacenter editions based on their virtualization requirements.

The Datacenter edition, in particular, allows for the provisioning of unlimited virtual machines without additional licensing costs, Aguado pointed out. This licensing model is in recognition that the size of private cloud projects are getting bigger, he added, and companies should not be constrained by costs issues should they choose to scale up their cloud deployments.

By comparison, rival VMware prices its virtualization products according to the number of virtual machines (VMs) and amount of virtual memory for each VM, among other conditions, he added.

System Center is now available in Release Candidate version, but the commercial release, including Asia-Pacific, is expected to be in market by mid-2012, the executive said.

Quizzed on which customer demographic Microsoft will be targeting in this region, Aguado noted that there are two types of customers it is eyeing. The first will be organizations that have had a long history in using System Center products, and Microsoft will now have to put in effort in informing this group on the new functionalities and features available in the latest version.

The other customer group would be companies that have just or are about to finish their server consolidation and virtualization projects. It is important to educate them on how private cloud deployment does not end with virtualization, and the next step would be to manage the heterogeneous datacenter environment and the apps in it, he explained.

Private, hybrid cloud impetus to grow
Commenting on Redmond's announcement, Chris Morris, IDC Asia-Pacific's associate vice president for cloud technologies and services, said System Center 2012 addresses some of the consistent issues that the research firm had heard from CIOs around Asia-Pacific.

"For example, we found that private cloud implementations stalled through 2010 and 2011 as organizations found the complexity of a private cloud implementation was far more than anticipated," he added in a statement.

"Also, nearly every organization we surveyed across the region now recognizes that their future IT environment is a hybrid cloud, with the ultimate responsibility for management of service delivery residing with them."

With Microsoft's announcements on Tuesday on the enhancements and additions to its private cloud portfolio addresses both of these concerns and "greatly simplifies" the licensing conditions for Microsoft cloud environments, Morris said.

Neville Burdan, general manager of Microsoft Solution division at Dimension Data Asia-Pacific, agreed that the new Redmond licensing scheme is helpful for companies looking to deploy large-scale cloud datacenter projects. He said in the same phone interview with Aguado that there will be "quite significant cost savings" for companies in the long run, and with more hardware capability to boot.

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