If you're having a tough time figuring out the Microsoft Cloud OS, you're not alone. Why else would the company put up a blog post titled "What is the Cloud OS?" the same day it rolls out a host of major upgrades to System Center 2012 and InTune in support of its cloud platform?
Microsoft's basic vision for Cloud OS is for it to function like a desktop or server OS charged with managing hardware and applications -- at cloud scale. The company's dream here is for IT to have a single pane of glass for monitoring and provisioning all the resources running in the company's private cloud, as well as in partners' clouds and especially Microsoft's public cloud, Windows Azure.
For example, an IT admin could flip a couple of switches to transfer a workload from in-house servers to a service provider or to Azure, whether for lack of available hardware on-site, to save money because the service provider can do it more cheaply, or because said IT admin is too short-handed to manage that load himself.
All of that would be completely invisible to end-users, who could go about their workdays, securely accessing apps and data from their device of choice from wherever they happen to have an Internet connection.
This broad vision rests on the combination of Windows Server 2012, Windows Azure, and the linchpin between them, System Center 2012. Available now, Service Pack 1 for System Center 2012 gives companies a means of managing data center components (networking, storage, and compute) as whole, rather than in a piecemeal fashion. The goal is to enable such capabilities as multitenancy, network virtualization, and storage virtualization for automated, hybrid cloud environments.
"All System Center 2012 components are now enabled to run in a Windows Server 2012 environment and provide management capabilities for Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V, Windows Server 2012 Servers, guest operating systems and applications," according to Mike Schutz, general manager for Windows Server and Management Product Marketing.
System Center 2012 SP1 provides IT with a place for centrally managing cloud-based applications and resources running in their data centers, on a hosted service provider data center, or on Windows Azure. Administrators can, for example, move virtual machines to Windows Azure and manage them from within System Center. They could also use System Center 2012 SP1 to back up their servers to Windows Azure or a third party.
"With SP1, a single instance of Virtual Machine Manager now supports up to 8,000 VMs on clusters of up to 64 hosts, and customers can easily extend beyond these limits with multiple instances of VMM, enabling datacenter management at large scale," according to Schutz.