Summary:

Microsoft has expanded its cloud options again, this time with a set of programs and offerings centered on its Hyper-V hypervisor. More strategic than technological, the new programs essentially affirm Hyper-V plus System Center as Microsoft’s internal cloud play by slapping the “cloud” label on them.

msft data center

Microsoft has expanded its cloud computing options yet again, this time with a set of programs and offerings centered on its Hyper-V hypervisor. More strategic than technological, the new programs – Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track, Hyper-V Cloud Service Provider Program, Hyper-V Cloud Deployment Guides and Hyper-V Cloud Accelerate – essentially affirm Hyper-V plus System Center as Microsoft’s internal cloud play by slapping the “cloud” label on them.

The most significant program appears to be Fast Track, through which customers can purchase preconfigured architectures running Microsoft’s cloud software on Dell, Fujitsu, Hitachi, HP, IBM or NEC hardware. HP has already productized this combination in the form of the HP Cloud Foundation for Hyper-V, which houses Hyper-V and System Center on HP’s BladeMatrix converged-infrastructure system. Microsoft already has cloud computing partnerships with HP and Dell, so their involvement shouldn’t be at all surprising.

The Hyper-V Cloud Service Provider Program looks like a take on the VMware vCloud strategy, only absent any talk of hybrid cloud computing. Whereas vCloud service-provider partners incorporate the vCloud API and vSphere Director to enable various degrees of interoperability between public and private VMware-based clouds, there is no mention of such a connection with the new Microsoft program. Partners, more than 70 worldwide, just offer infrastructure as a service built on Hyper-V and System Center. Notably, however, Microsoft did recently make Windows Server applications portable to Windows Azure.

The Hyper-V Cloud Deployment Guides and Cloud Accelerate are consulting services to help customers design and fund their Hyper-V clouds.

The new programs probably are necessary to help Microsoft sell Hyper-V and System Center as foundational pieces for internal clouds (although rebranding or prepackaging under the cloud banner wouldn’t hurt, either). Its biggest competition in hypervisor-based clouds is VMware (sub req’d), which has done a great job (sub req’d) marketing its myriad virtualization products as cloud software. Considering VMware’s significant leads in market and mind share, Microsoft needs to help users make the Hyper-V-is-cloud-computing connection if it wants to close the gap.

But the Hyper-V Cloud lineup also perpetuates Microsoft’s two-headed cloud attack. That’s not necessarily a good thing, because it forces Microsoft customers (those not cut out for the Windows Azure Appliance, at least) to choose between two very distinct platforms depending on their plans. All signs point to internal clouds seeing mass adoption first, which is why many internal-cloud software vendors are pushing products that mirror the public cloud experience. However, as I wrote several months ago (sub req’d), Microsoft appears determined to incorporate on-premise features into Windows Azure without integrating lessons learned in the public cloud back into its on-premise software. Microsoft is doing great things with Windows Azure, so why not bring some of that into Hyper-V and System Center to make them that much stronger?

Image courtesy of Microsoft.

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