Microsoft equips Windows Server for cloud duty

Microsoft has released a new set of technologies for hosting Azure-like cloud services

By , IDG News Service |  Cloud Computing

Microsoft is giving hosting providers and other organizations some tools for setting up their own Windows-based
cloud systems using Microsoft Windows Server.

In conjunction with the company's Worldwide Partners Conference (WPC) this week in Toronto, Microsoft has released a preview set of technologies that can be
installed on Windows Server that will allow organizations to set up virtual machines and Web hosting services that
can then be offered as services, either internally or externally.

Microsoft initially developed all of the technologies to run its own Windows Azure cloud
service, though it did not specify if this set of technologies would be fully interchangeable with Microsoft's own
Azure service.

The pre-release preview of the technologies, called a Community Technology Preview (CTP), offers three sets of
services that can be used by multiple parties. One is for hosting websites and Web applications. Another is for
offering virtual machines, of either the Linux or Microsoft variety. The third set of services provides consumers
with their own self-service portals.

On Monday, Microsoft announced that it would soon release Windows Server 2012, the next-generation Windows
operating system for servers. Server manufacturers will get the OS in August and it will be generally available in
September. During his keynote at WPC, Satya Nadella, who is president of Redmond's server and tools business,
touted the release, along with these Azure-based technologies, as an
alternative
to VMware's cloud software.

For website hosting, the package runs not only Microsoft's own ASP (Active Server Pages) and ASP.NET frameworks,
but also the open-source PHP Web programming language and Node.js JavaScript framework. It can run both Linux and
Windows Server as virtual machines. The package also provides a portal, as well as an API (application programming
interface), which both can be used to manage websites and virtual servers. It also includes the ability to
provision services, keep track of billing, and add customized artwork and additional services.

The package requires at least four virtual machines running either Windows Server 2012, which will be available
by September, or Windows Server 2008 R2. It requires System Center 2012 SP1, currently available only as a CTP. It
also requires the updated .NET Framework, both versions 3.5 and 4. And it requires both SQL Server 2008 and MySQL
5.1.

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