What is the Cloud OS?

The following is a post from Michael Park, Corporate Vice President of Marketing in the Server & Tools Business at Microsoft.

We all know change is constant, especially in technology. Managing through change is always a challenge, but over the past 20 years I’ve found it to be one of the most rewarding aspects of my career in the tech industry.

During the past six months I’ve been talking to IT executives and partners about the big changes and trends in enterprise IT, such as the various cloud computing models, the consumerization of IT, the new generation of connected applications and big data. I’ve shared with them our vision of what we call the Cloud OS and the feedback has been very positive. They see it as a differentiated approach from Microsoft that will help them embrace the transformational changes happening now. Today, Microsoft announced several new products and services that deliver against the Cloud OS, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to further explain it to readers of this blog.

At the highest level, the Cloud OS does what a traditional operating system does – manage applications and hardware – but at the scope and scale of cloud computing. The foundations of the Cloud OS are Windows Server and Windows Azure, complemented by the full breadth of our technology solutions, such as SQL Server, System Center and Visual Studio. Together, these technologies provide one consistent platform for infrastructure, apps and data that can span your datacenter, service provider datacenters, and the Microsoft public cloud.

Key to this consistent platform is a set of common technologies and capabilities that extend across those three datacenters.

· Flexible development allows your organization’s developers to use their choice of tools, languages – Microsoft or open source – and open standards to quickly build apps, connect them with other apps and data, and then deploy on premises, in the cloud or in a hybrid model. Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server enable application lifecycle management, from the idea to deployment of an app.

· Unified management with System Center and Windows Intune gives your administrators a single pane of glass to manage applications, systems and devices across private, hosted and public clouds.

· Active Directory and Windows Azure AD provide a powerful base for single identity across clouds to securely extend applications to people and their devices.

· Integrated and portable virtualization, built into Windows Server, allows your team to virtualize not just servers, but also the network, storage and applications across clouds.

· Last but not least, a complete data platform powered by SQL allows you to manage petabytes of data, power mission critical applications and give businesspeople BI solutions with a range of tools – Excel all the way up to Hadoop.

So, what does the Cloud OS mean to IT organizations?

It means your organization can shift to more efficiently managing datacenter resources as a whole, including networking, storage and compute. You will be able to deliver powerful apps that boost employee productivity and delight your customers much, much faster across private, hybrid and public clouds. Further, it means you can manage data, both big and small, to extract the story it has to tell for your business. And you will be able to give employees personalized experiences with apps and data on virtually any device, while maintaining security and compliance.

One of the reasons I believe Microsoft is uniquely positioned to deliver on the promise of the Cloud OS is that our products and services are deeply informed by our first-hand experience in running some of the largest Internet-scale services in the world. Running more than 200 cloud services for over 1 billion customers and 20+ million businesses around the world has taught us – and teaches us in real time – what it takes to architect, build and run applications and services at cloud scale.

We take all the learning from those services into the engines of the Cloud OS – our enterprise products and services – which customers and partners can then use to deliver cloud infrastructure and services of their own. It’s a virtuous cycle of development. Combine that with the established enterprise credibility of our products, such as Windows Server, which runs tens of millions of servers around the world, and you can see why customers can truly bet on Microsoft in the cloud era. Our breadth of experience across private, public and hybrid cloud is unmatched, whereas other vendors tend to specialize in one or another area.

I hope this introduction provides a good sense of what we mean by Cloud OS and the opportunity it presents to enterprise customers and individual IT managers. By embracing Microsoft’s approach, IT professionals can evolve from IT administrator to cloud innovator, and better assure themselves a career path into the future.