Microsoft’s web hosting partners make up a considerable chunk of its cloud services business – 14,000 of its hosting partners use Windows Server, over 8,500 use SQL server, and over 5,500 use Exchange – and its latest product launch seems to reinforce how crucial web hosts are in spreading adoption of Microsoft cloud.
Microsoft said on Tuesday that web hosts are a key driver of the Microsoft Cloud OS strategy – the term it uses to describe the consistent platform that encompasses infrastructure, apps and data across on-premise, service provider data centers and Microsoft public cloud.
“We’re seeing a huge shift to cloud computing as well as how hosting service providers play a really key role in that,” Mike Schutz, Microsoft general manager, server and tools division, said in a press briefing on Tuesday morning.
On Tuesday, Microsoft released a couple of cloud services to support its web hosting partners. Microsoft System Center Service Pack 1 and Windows Azure services for Windows 2012 promise to make it easier for web hosts to move customers’ enterprise workloads to the cloud, and for end-users to manage hybrid clouds through a single pane of glass.
According to Jess Coburn, CEO of Microsoft web hosting partner Applied Innovations, one of the most exciting pieces of Tuesday’s announcement is Windows Azure services for Windows Server 2012.
“Microsoft took the same technology it uses for Azure websites and made it available for hosts to deploy on top of their own infrastructure,” Coburn said in a phone call with the WHIR. “That’s a big deal because they’re saying ‘Hey guys, we built this hugely scalable platform and it’s a big success, and here you go, we’re giving it to you.’”
Previewed at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference last summer in Toronto, the Windows Azure services for Windows Server capabilities are now generally available and enable high-scale web and virtual machine hosting services, according to Microsoft.
“These are high-scale websites and virtual machine hosting capabilities that we originally built for Windows Azure but we are now taking those and making them available to our hosting service providers to run on their own Windows Server 2012 and systems center infrastructure,” Schutz said. “These are specifically designed for easy incorporation into service providers existing services so that they can use them to differentiate their offerings and customize them without a lot of resources. The Windows Azure services on Windows Server are a great example of the virtuous cycle of development where we bring our learnings and investment in the public cloud and apply them to our products for customers and partners to deploy in their own data centers.”
The other piece of the announcement is System Center 2012 Service Pack 1, an update to System Center that includes an API that allows hosting customers to connect their on-premise System Center to their hosted cloud.
“It will make it easier for them to migrate to the cloud because it will provide them with the ability to manage using System Center,” Coburn said.
In the press briefing on Tuesday, Coburn said that 95 percent of Applied Innovation’s server instances run on Hyper-V, something it is committed to because of the consistent platform and Cloud OS notion. The update to System Center adds the ability to leverage Hyper-V replica and network virtualization, simplifying the move from on-prem to cloud even further.
“The other thing is this is really Hyper-V and the Windows Server 2012 launch, but Hyper-V replica isn’t really getting a lot of play,” Coburn told the WHIR. “It’s free within Windows and its a DR solution that you can DR from on-prem to the cloud. That’s an easy way for them to migrate from on-prem to the cloud.”
“Here’s the really cool thing: usually when you move your servers from on-prem to the cloud you have to re-IP. In this version of System Center and Windows Server [customers are] able to do network virtualization to keep the same IPs. When they move their workloads to the cloud everything just stays the same,” he said.
Talk back: Are you excited about the new Microsoft cloud offerings for web hosts? As a Microsoft hosting partner, what do you hope to see next from Microsoft to support your cloud business? Let us know in a comment.