Picture Credit: ZDNetYesterday, Microsoft announced the release of VMMSSP, which in short form is called as Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 Self-Service Portal 2. VMMSSP is the partner-extensible solution built on top of Windows Server 2008 R2, Hyper-V, and System Center VMM. This announcement marks the second part of their private cloud strategy. Let us take a look at the announcement and what it means to cloud computing.

Ever since Ray Ozzie announced Windows Azure at PDC ’08, there was some expectations about their private cloud strategy. It was interesting because a private cloud play is necessary because
  • Enterprises were not ready to dump everything on public clouds, even if Microsoft os the one providing the public cloud infrastructure
  • Microsoft will want to use private cloud strategy to plug the loss of revenue on their server products as companies move to cloud based world
After giving confusing signals, Microsoft finally announced their Azure Appliance private cloud offering. This announcement clearly puzzled me and few other pundits in the cloud space because it was clearly targeting big enterprises with thousands of servers. I felt that they are missing out on another segment of the private cloud market by this move. Later, it became clear that they are taking two pronged approach to private clouds and a combination of Windows Server 2008, Hyper-V, System Center and Self Service portal will be sold to the rest of the private cloud marketplace. Even though I strongly believe that the economics will push most of the workloads to public clouds (once the security matures and some of the concerns are addressed by public cloud providers) in the long run, I see private cloud (rather, hybrid clouds) as the short term strategy for the enterprises. With this move, Microsoft is positioning themselves to gain big in this space. In that sense, this is a smart strategy.
VMMSSP can be used to pool, allocate, and manage resources to offer infrastructure as a service and to deliver the foundation for a private cloud platform inside your datacenter. VMMSSP includes a pre-built web-based user interface that has sectionsfor both the datacenter managers and the business unit IT consumers, with role-based access control. VMMSSP also includes a dynamic provisioning engine. VMMSSP reduces the time needed to provision infrastructures and their components by offering business unit “on-boarding,” infrastructure request and change management.
In short, with VMMSSP, one can
  • Manage all the resources in the datacenter
  • Simplify business unit on-boarding
  • Manage infrastructure requests from various business units and provide forms for self-service virtual machine provisioning
  • Extend and customize virtual machine actions including an ability to add third party extensions
If I have to use the definition of Sam Johnston, this is just virtualization with some automation added on top of it. But I guess it is just a war over semantics and we can just call it private cloud if there is a support for fault tolerance inside the system center (something I didn’t get a chance to verify).
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Krishnan Subramanian

Krish dons several avatars including entrepreneur in exile, analyst cum researcher, technology evangelist, blogger, ex-physicist, social/political commentator, etc.. My main focus is research and analysis on various high impact topics in the fields of Open Source, Cloud Computing and the interface between them. I also evangelize Open Source and Cloud Computing in various media outlets, blogs and other public forums. I offer strategic advise to both Cloud Computing and Open Source providers and, also, help other companies take advantage of Open Source and Cloud Computing. In my opinion, Open Source commoditized software and Cloud Computing commoditized computing resources. A combination of these two developments offers a strong competitive advantage to companies of all sizes and shapes. Due to various factors, including fear, the adoption of both Open Source and Cloud Computing are relatively slow in the business sector. So, I take it upon myself to clear any confusion in this regard and educate, enrich and advise users/customers to take advantage of the benefits offered by these technologies. I am also a managing partner in two consulting companies based in India. I blog about Open Source topics at http://open.krishworld.com and Cloud Computing related topics at http://www.cloudave.com.

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