Windows Azure Services Beta for Windows Server

System Center series for the servers running Windows Server OSes may be useful for certain technical purposes such as clustering, websites, storages and other stuffs. Last week, there was some launch event in Southeast Asia for Windows Server 8 where people were quite interested in many of the new individual technologies. While this was so, there was a real sense that they also find the broader vision Microsoft has laid out highly compelling. In the future, the datacenter with servers will be in the cloud with Windows Azure and Windows Server 8.

Three months ago, the developers said that there will be over 200 cloud applications with some of the largest online services for the datacenters. Normally, you can use the Office 365, Hotmail and Bing if that’s the case for standard business. For gaming business, Xbox Live service may be included provided that the company has certain Xbox Live powered games. You can straight away install the new Windows Azure technology to the Windows Server OS which is currently in beta to provide high density Web Sites as well as Virtual Machine provisioning and management. They may be designed for easy incorporation into hosting service providers’ offerings for deployment to their broad customer base.

The first thing is the web sites in which hosting service providers can now deliver scalable, high density web site hosting solutions on Windows Server to help them lower costs and increase revenue and profitability. Delegated administration and features such as Reserved Instances allow tenant self-service and scaling while providing a smooth ramp from low cost offerings to premium services. Using the Web App Gallery, it can allow customers to quickly provision popular Microsoft and 3rd party web applications without the need to code everything. Can Web App Gallery save the asses from having to code the stuffs all over the place?

Virtual Machines on the other hand may require even higher system requirements so think twice if you may want to try the shit out of Windows Azure beta for Windows Server as we believe that this is for business and not personal use. Virtual Machine provisioning and management is a core part of the value proposition of the Microsoft Private Cloud offering for Enterprises, built on Windows Server 8 for example. Hosting service providers can now also use this technology to offer a high quality self-service experience for their customers to provision and manage virtual machines. With the use of the new Service Management API for integration of their customer portal, they can control System Center and Windows Server to make, operate and update virtual machines. I don’t know if certain companies will offer you the virtual machine to use but I guess that certain companies like Amazon may give you the opportunity to try out the similar technology stuffs but they are actually powered with Linux technology so it may be more complicated back then.

As part of the new two service offerings in Windows Azure, there is a new portal that has received rave reviews and has dramatically eased the manageability of the cloud services. The technology preview as of three months ago, there would be the same great experience for the developers’ own hosting service providers. The portal had been designed by them from the ground up with cloud services in mind and in bringing this portal technology to Windows Server that was updated to allow their partners to adapt it to various business needs. Some partner like demonstrated how easily they were able to rebrand the Service Management Portal and how quickly a customer could deploy and then scale a new WordPress blog site using the Web Sites capability. Man, I wish I can be one of such customers in any case as I already have my own WordPress Blog.

Other partners may include Parallels in which they showed how they replaced the Service Management Portal with their Parallels Automation System by integrating directly with the Service Management API and it seemed like they’re the third party company for this portal for sure.

Lastly, for enterprise customers, the right solution for a dynamic datacenter and private cloud environment is the combination of Windows Server and System Center. With this combination, you’ll find the capabilities needed to aggregate resources and delegate them with the organization to allow for self-service provisioning and management of your VMs and applications, whether in your datacenter if you will or through the Windows Azure subscription. Careful, I believe that Windows Azure subscription is costly so you may want System Center alone for the servers running Windows Server OSes in your datacenter if that’s the case while still trying out the new technology. Next year, there will be the Service Pack 1 release of the new System Center that will enable the customers to see and utilize capacity they’ve provisioned from service providers in the same way as they consume their own resources or those in Windows Azure.

In the beta version, the release is now feature complete but be reminded that these technologies are not something incremental that needs to be purchased by hosters. This is simply part of the broad solution you tap into when you deploy Windows Server 8 and the new System Center. Here are the following features you’ll find in the beta version of the bits:

  • Service Management Portal and API
    • Distributed Installation of the Service Management Portal and API as well as Web Sites controller separate from them
    • Users are now able to sign up for multiple plans
  • Web Sites
    • HTTPS/SSL support for tenants that are now able to upload custom certificates and use them for programmatic access
    • Distributed installation with High Availability and Live Upgrade
    • Generic FastCGI and custom stack support
  • Virtual Machines
    • Customized way in creating VMs from VM Template with rich wizard experience
    • Hardware profile for making VMs from the VHDs
    • Tenants are now VMM Tenant Admins and utilize the new VMM on-behalf of features

So before you start, you need to have at least four virtual machines running Windows Server 2k8 R2 and above in addition to the new System Center on the VHD. Install .NET Framework 3.5 and 4 and all updates on these virtual machines. It may seem to be complicated but you can read the quick start guide or detailed step-by-step installation guide and like I have predicted, this is for business use.


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