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Using Windows Server 8 to Build an IaaS Cloud

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Small and large enterprises will be able to create their own clouds with Windows Server 8. A Microsoft whitepaper presents the details of building such an IaaS platform with the upcoming server OS from Redmond.

After offering a PaaS cloud through the Windows Azure platform and two SaaS solutions - Office 365 and Dynamics CRM Online-, Microsoft is preparing to provide another possible option, a Windows Server 8-based solution for customers interested in creating their own IaaS cloud. Beside Windows Server, the solution uses AppFabric and System Center, as depicted in the graphic below:


Windows Server 8 (WS8) allows enterprises to move from traditional or virtualized data centers to “cloudy” ones by enabling the automatic allocation and setup of isolated VMs for multiple tenants with support for scalability and manageability. Not only that, but with Live Migration one can now migrate multiple running virtualized workloads between Hyper-V hosts across cluster boundaries and subnets or WAN sub-networks without stopping the services or reconfiguring the IP addresses, and Storage Migration can be used to move virtualized hard disks across networks with zero downtime, capabilities introduced by Microsoft at BUILD 2011. Live Migration allows companies to move from a virtualized in-house Hyper-V-based solution to an on-premises or hosted cloud without downtime.

Regarding security, Hyper-V Extensible Switch provides the following features: Private virtual LAN, ARP poisoning/spoofing protection, DHCP snooping protection, virtual port access control lists, and VLAN trunk mode support. WS8 also provides resource metering, informing both on static measures –virtual CPUs or disk space allocated-, and on dynamic ones, such as CPU consumption or network bandwidth used. It also comes with a number of performance counters -SMB2 file share usage, RDMA usage, network traffic and VM metrics-, used to quantify the performance of various resources.

The possibility to set up QoS policies allows, for example, to have an SLA that guarantees a minimum and a maximum network bandwidth so the customer can be protected from other tenants with high network traffic and the host provider to be protected in case a bug in the software takes too much bandwidth. The SLA is automatically enforced.

WS8 clouds can be managed via Windows PowerShell 3 that comes with thousands of predefined cmdlets that can be used to execute various commands for cloud administration and Windows PowerShell Workflows, which are the modern equivalents of batch commands.

Microsoft recommends WS8 for all cloud sizes, from mid-size businesses that need only dozens of servers to enterprises with hundreds of servers or hosting providers with thousands of servers.

The whitepaper “Building an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) Cloud Using Windows Server 8” contains more information on creating a cloud with Windows Server 8, including details on scalability, availability and extensibility.

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