Microsoft fills out Hyper-V cloud ecosystem

Microsoft unveils blueprints, training and 70 certified hosting providers for private Azure clouds

Microsoft has partnered with six major hardware vendors to provide reference architectures that should help enterprises build private IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service)-styled clouds, the company announced Monday.

Dell, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and NEC have all signed on as partners to the Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track program, and have worked with Microsoft to offer blueprints detailing how their hardware could be assembled and configured to run private clouds.

The announcement is one of a number of new initiatives from Microsoft to offer more support for organizations interested in deploying Hyper-V-based clouds, with in-house or through a service provider. Hyper-V is Microsoft's virtualization hypervisor, software that allows multiple operating systems to run on a single physical server.

"We believe it will take off months off your project, it will reduce your risk and increase your conference in switching on a private cloud," said David McCann, who is a Microsoft general manager of product management.

For each of the six partners, Microsoft offers a reference architecture that details which of that partner's hardware to purchase as well as how to install the Microsoft software to run on this equipment.

For instance, the HP Cloud Foundation for Hyper-V architecture shows how to integrate the HP BladeSystem Matrix, Microsoft System Center and Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V software into a private cloud stack.

The reference architectures will address a whole line of design issues, such as how the network and storage layers are designed, how many virtual versus physical servers should be deployed and how failover works. Dell, HP, and IBM reference architectures will be posted Tuesday, with the other vendors to follow within the next month.

In addition to the fast Track program, the company has also has started accrediting hosting providers that are capable of providing Hyper-V-based cloud services, under the Hyper-V Cloud Service Provider Program. Thus far, the company has accredited over 70 providers, including the Seoul-based Internet Data Center, the Gloucester, U.K-based Fasthosts, and the Saint Ouen, France-based Agarik.

Microsoft is offering training material to both organizations and third-party integrators. For customers planning to build private clouds, Microsoft offers a set of Hyper-V Cloud Deployment Guides, which offers instructions on how to set up private clouds using a variety of third party equipment.

For integrators working on behalf of enterprises, Microsoft offers a new program called the Hyper-V Cloud Accelerate, which will help integrators set up test systems as well as deploy production systems. Both Microsoft Consulting Services and partners in the Microsoft Partner Network will offer these services.

"The new programs probably are necessary to help Microsoft sell Hyper-V and System Center as foundational pieces for internal clouds," noted GigaOm analyst Derrick Harris, an analyst with IT analysis firm GigaOm,in a blog post. "Its biggest competition in hypervisor-based clouds is VMware, which has done a great job 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."

The company announced these services during the company's TechEd Europe conference, being held this week in Berlin.

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