Microsoft is updating a number of its IT infrastructure and development tools to work more seamlessly with its Azure hosted cloud services, including Windows Server, System Center, Visual Studio, and SQL Server.
"You can think of all these products as being Azure-powered. We're bringing the experience, code and design from Azure to our on-premise products," said Brad Anderson, who is Microsoft's corporate vice president of Windows Server and System Center.
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At the Microsoft TechEd conference this week in New Orleans, Anderson will announce the pending releases of Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, Visual Studio 2013, and SQL Server 2014, as well as an update of Microsoft's Intune computer management service. Each of these products will be available in preview form later this month, and all will be available as commercial releases by the end of the year, except for SQL Server 2014, which will be released early in 2014.
All these releases share a familiar theme: They all work with Azure, or Azure-like cloud services from Microsoft partners, streamlining the process for organizations to shift their workloads between their own data centers and cloud services. Using these latest releases, organizations can back up their in-house Windows Server applications or SQL Server databases in Azure. Or they could use Azure for failover operations, where the cloud service could take over operations should the primary data-center servers fail for some reason, Anderson said in an interview before the conference opened.
"We have focused on enabling organizations to embrace the hybrid cloud, breaking down the barriers to seamlessly stretch your data center out to a service provider, or out to Azure," Anderson said. "Rather than purchasing licenses from other vendors, you can now take advantage of what is in SQL Server and Windows Server to get these capabilities, which are covered in your existing licenses."
The Windows Server 2012 R2 update will provide capabilities to copy applications and data on the server to Microsoft Azure, or to other service providers' Azure implementations. The OS will also facilitate a way to replicate Hyper-V virtual machines on Azure. Also helping with cloud deployments is Windows Server 2012 R2's new capabilities in storage tiering, which allows administrators to establish different levels of storage. This feature could be handy in using storage more cost-effectively, by providing an easy way to store the most essential data on the fastest storage devices, while squirrelling away the less consulted data on less expensive disks.