For many IT departments currently evaluating or implementing a private cloud model of computing, this is the next phase or evolution in upgrading their existing virtualized data center. Part of that private cloud build-out consists of creating a self-service portal, typically for use in test and dev, but with plans for expanding that functionality into production.
Even though virtualization is a key enabling technology in the cloud, virtualization giant VMware doesn't yet have a firm grip over this early-stage market. But Microsoft is making plenty of moves in order to establish itself quickly and early, and it already has many of the components and partners needed to make the cloud a reality.
[ InfoWorld's Eric Knorr explains what the "private cloud" really means. | Also on InfoWorld: A recent study reveals that CIOs are still wary of virtualization technology | Use server virtualization to get highly reliable failover at a fraction of the usual cost. Find out how in InfoWorld's High Availability Virtualization Deep Dive PDF special report.]
Earlier this month during the TechEd Europe conference in Berlin, Microsoft announced the 2.0 release of the Virtual Machine Manager Self-Service Portal (VMMSSP), a solution built on top of Windows Server 2008 R2, Hyper-V and System Center Virtual Machine Manager.
The 2.0 Self-Service Portal was originally announced in July during the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, but don't confuse it with the self-service portal currently available as part of VMM 2008 R2. VMMSSP 2.0 is a stand-alone product that offers a Web-based user interface for managing virtual machines, and it can co-exist with the already existing self-service portal.
The new tool can be used to pool, allocate, and manage resources to offer infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and to deliver the foundation for a private cloud platform inside of the data center.
According to Microsoft, there are a number of features for customers to take advantage of within the latest version of the self-service portal:
- Configuration and allocation of data center resources: Store management and configuration information related to compute, network, and storage resources as assets in the VMMSSP database.
- Customization of virtual machine actions: Provide a simple Web-based interface to extend the default virtual machine actions; for example, you can add scripts that interact with Storage Area Networks for rapid deployment of virtual machines.
- Business unit on-boarding: Standardized forms and a simple workflow for registering and approving or rejecting business units to enroll in the portal.
- Infrastructure request and change management: Standardized forms and human-driven workflow that results in reducing the time needed to provision infrastructures in your environment.
- Self-service provisioning: Supports bulk creation of virtual machines on provisioned infrastructure through the Web-based interface; helps business units to manage their virtual machines based on delegated roles.