Is Windows Server 2012 cloud ready?

To answer this question we need to take a closer look at the requirements for a server system to be considered cloud ready and then investigate the different features of Windows Server 2012 that does or does not meet these requirements. Windows Server 2012 is the official name of Windows Server code name “8” and is now on its Beta stage of development.

The first thing to consider here is the ability of the operating system to virtualize its resources, meaning to make them available as part of a shared pool and managed by an administrator. The main features Windows Server 2012 has here are:

–          Hyper-V extensible switch – the Hyper-V switch from Windows Server 2008 is now enhanced to support extensions. It is a platform for you to extend the functionality of a virtual switch to whatever your organization needs.

–          Network Virtualization – allows you to continue using you IP address scheme in the cloud infrastructure. All your virtual machines will have two IP addresses – one that you’re used to, and one new, that will be unique from the cloud perspective. All your services that depend on the IP address scheme will continue to work in the cloud.

–          Quality of Service (QoS) – gives you the opportunity to manage your network environment, identify problems, and prioritize traffic. You can use it to give priority to network-intensive applications such as voice traffic and to management messages indicating network connectivity problems.

–          Enhanced Live Storage Migration – allows you to move the files of a virtual machine while it’s still running. If a physical volume hosting VMs is running out of space, you don’t have to worry about moving one of all of the VMs to another location. Windows Server 2012 will do this job transparently without even turning the machines off.

Self-service is another thing you have to consider if you intend to provide or consume public cloud services. This functionality gives the clients the ability to change only the settings that are relevant to what they’ve paid for. It usually happens via custom Web page serving as a portal. Windows Server 2012 gives you the necessary foundation for this to happen by PowerShell and WMI.  Furthermore, Windows Server 2012 gives you the ability to monitor or to allow the customer to monitor the resources they’re using.

The next thing in our list would be elasticity. What it covers is the ability of the infrastructure to support the ever changing needs of the company using cloud services. If you host an application in the cloud, you would normally want more resources in peak user activity periods and less for the rest of the time. Furthermore, you may want to move your application from one geo-location to another. Windows Server 2012 has integrated support of IKEv2 VPN that can be used for hybrid cloud environments with interconnected public and private cloud infrastructures. IKEv2 VPN is an IPSec secured VPN connection allowing mobility of the connected users between different wireless access points or when moving from wireless to wired connection. The Network Virtualization functionality discussed earlier also helps Windows Server 2012 meet the elasticity requirements of today’s cloud infrastructures.

With all the Windows Server 2012 features mentioned we can definitely consider Windows Server 2012 a cloud ready operating system.

Keep eye on this block for further articles discussing Windows Server 2012’s advanced features!