Microsoft's cloud buzzword of 2011: Hybrid

The week of March 21 kicks off in earnest the annual Microsoft annual cycle of tradeshows -- and the commencement of the first of many coming mentions of a word I predict we'll hear a lot in 2011: Hybrid.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

The week of March 21 kicks off in earnest the annual Microsoft annual cycle of tradeshows -- and the commencement of the first of many coming mentions of a word I predict we'll hear a lot in 2011: Hybrid.

I'm not talking about Microsoft employees' Priuses (Prii?) here. Instead, I'm talking about Microsoft's cloud-strategy push, which I'm predicting will be long on mentions of hybrid public/private clouds.

At next week's Microsoft Management Summit 2011 in Las Vegas, Microsoft is expected to the wraps off its "Concero" product. Concero, if you need a refresher, is a new management tool in the System Center family that will allow customers to oversee both on-premises and cloud-based services.

Concero, from a description I found on the MMS site a couple months ago, was described this way:

“The move to cloud based deployment of services will result in deployments which are partly on private on-premise clouds based on VMM and Hyper-V and partly on Windows Azure. In this hybrid world, it is imperative to have a management tool that allows customers to deploy and manage their services across these environments. System Center codename “Concero” is a self-service portal targeted at this customer base.”

(Microsoft has removed all references of Concero and "hybrid" from the MMS session list, by the way.)

At the upcoming Microsoft TechEd North America conference in mid-May, the "hybrid" message will get even more play, as the session list makes clear. There's a session slated on "Combining Public and Private Clouds into Useful Hybrids." There's one on how to set up Exchange and Office 365 as a hybrid deployment. There's a "Public and Private Cloud: Better Together" session on the agenda, and another focused on bridging the public and private cloud.

I recently asked Microsoft Office Division President Kurt DelBene, who was on a press tour on the East Coast, about the hybrid messaging, and he said that Microsoft's focus on both private and public clouds reflected how customers are moving to the cloud. They're doing it in a staged way, typically, keeping some assets on their own servers and testing the cloud infrastructure with other less "mission critical" data.

Microsoft isn't the only company that increasingly is playing up the "H" word. Just recently, Microsoft archrival VMware also has begun talking up the importance of "hybrid cloud management." Its recently announced vCenter Operations product will allow both internal and external virtual machines to get system configuration, performance management, and capacity management functionality. The product will be available in standard, advanced, and enterprise editions, each  available at the end of March with pricing that starts at $50 per managed VM.

Amazon, another Microsoft cloud rival, announced this week an expansion of its Virtual Private Cloud technology. Amazon's VPC is "a secure bridge between your existing IT infrastructure and the AWS cloud using an encrypted VPN connection," and is something in which a number of IT managers considering Amazon have expressed interest.

Amazon released a number of new features for VPC this week, including a new wizard for streamlining the set-up process; the ability to control the full network topology; Internet access via an Internet gateway; elastic IP addresses for EC2 instances within a VPC; and an option to create a VPC that doesn't have a VPN connection. (Separately, Amazon also added support this week for Windows Server 2008 R2 instances on EC2 to its cloud lineup.)

Microsoft is working on its own networking bridge between on-premises servers and Windows Azure. (Another "hybrid" product.) That technology, Windows Azure Connect (codenamed "Project Sydney") is supposed to be available in the first half of 2011 in final form, last we heard.

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