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People-Centric IT with the System Center 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview

Hello from the System Center team and all of you participating in TechEd Europe 2013.  We wanted to take this opportunity to provide more technical details on System Center 2012 R2, Intune and Windows Server 2012 R2 so you’ll see some new blog posts today and later this week.  Let’s start first with Windows Server 2012 R2.

Windows Server is the foundation OS for many of our products and it is important to know what we are delivering with the next release. The file system and storage capabilities have been an important role for any server operating system, and that continues today with virtualization and cloud services.  See the Windows Server teams blog post, “Storage Transformation for Your Datacenter” for information on SMB Direct, SMB Multichannel and other storage improvements.

Storage is an integral part of many applications or services and System Center obviously needs to store information about devices it manages in your environment.  This device landscape is vast and includes operating systems other than Windows. Jason Leznek wrote, “Preview New People-centric IT Products Now!” to expand on these capabilities. In that post you will get information on the device operating systems we support, what you can test today, and what is coming in the next release of Windows Intune (not yet available for testing).

Content and Downloads

If the information in the blog posts seems foreign and you want to learn more, be sure to check out all of the sessions in the TechEd Europe 2013 course catalog.  You can watch the sessions live or on-demand.  The sessions are organized by tracks and you can filter in a variety of ways to find a particular topic.

Ready to try the previews for yourself?  Go get the Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2 or SQL Server 2014 R2 previews at the download center.  Enjoy!

 

 

Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview is Now Available for Download

Today at TechEd Europe 2013 we announced availability of the System Center 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2012 R2 previews.  You can download these products right now from the evaluation center.

Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 provide a wealth of new advancements to help IT organizations build and deliver private and hybrid cloud infrastructure for their businesses.  Some of the highlights include:

  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview Now Available for DownloadEnabling hybrid cloud – Windows Server Hyper-V and System Center enable virtual machine portability across customer, service provider and Windows Azure clouds, while a new System Center Management Pack for Windows Azure enhances cross-cloud management of virtual machine and storage resources.  Windows Azure Backup and Hyper-V Recovery Manager provide offsite backup and disaster recovery options.
  • Windows Azure Pack provides Windows Azure technology that enterprises and services providers can run on their Windows Server infrastructure for multi-tenant web and virtual machine cloud services. 
  • Built-in software-defined networking – Site-to-Site VPN Gateway helps customers seamlessly bridge physical and virtual networks and extend them from their datacenter to service provider datacenters. 
  • High performance, cost effective storage Features such as Storage Spaces Tiering, VHDX resizing and de-duplication for virtual desktop infrastructure provide high performance for critical on-premises workloads (like SQL and Hyper-V) using lower-cost, industry-standard hardware.
  • Empowering employee productivity – Windows Server Work Folders, Web App Proxy, improvements to Active Directory Federation Services and other technologies will help companies give their employees consistent access to company resources on the device of their choice.

This and a number of other announcements are highlighted on the Server and Cloud Blog post, “TechEd Europe Launches with Cloud OS Product Previews, Partner Announcements and Customer Case Studies”.  Be sure to take a look at it.  There is a wealth of information on the products, Brad Anderson’s keynote and blog post links, press release links and more!

For those of you interested in the TechEd sessions for Windows Server, be sure and review the Modern Datacenter track in the catalog. Additional filtering can be applied with the tagging to get right at the Windows Server sessions you might be interested in.  There are sessions on virtualization, storage, manage, security, etc. Enjoy!

Transforming your Datacenter with Software-Defined Networking (SDN): Part I

With server virtualization, you are able to decouple a compute instance from the underlying hardware.  That enables you to pool compute resources for greater flexibility. However, to truly transform your datacenter, you’ve also got to deliver your storage, compute, and networking resources as a shared, elastic resource pool for on-demand delivery of datacenter capacity. Indeed, this datacenter-level abstraction is a critical part of Microsoft’s Cloud OS vision.    

Part of the challenge in holistically abstracting your datacenter resources is that the network hasn’t kept up with the advances in compute innovation. Today’s networks can be rigid due to tight coupling between your workloads and the underlying physical network hardware such as ports, switches, and routers. Network operations are overly complex since the management interfaces to configure and provision network devices tend to be proprietary; in many cases, network configuration needs to happen on a per-device basis, making it difficult to maintain an end-to-end operational view of your network. And if you’ve ever tried to move an application from one datacenter to another, you know how cumbersome it is to reconfigure the underlying IP addresses in the process.     

Defining SDN

Software-defined networking is about enabling software – rather than the hardware – to dynamically manage the network in a way that helps you better meet the requirements of your applications and workloads. This involves:

  • The ability to abstract your apps and workloads from the underlying physical network, which can be accomplished by virtualizing the network. Analogous to server virtualization, you need consistent abstractions that will work with your applications and workloads in a non-disruptive manner. For instance, you would need virtual abstractions for your physical network elements, such as IP addresses, switches, and load balancers. 
  • The ability to centrally define and control policies that govern both physical and virtual networks, including traffic flow between them. 
  • The ability to implement these network policies in a consistent manner at-scale, even as new workloads are deployed or moved around across virtualized or physical networks.

Delivering SDN

Microsoft’s approach to SDN is grounded in our experiences designing, building, and operating global-scale datacenter networks for services like Windows Azure. We’re adding over a thousand customers per day to Windows Azure. Enterprises trust Microsoft to enable them to deliver on-demand capacity to their business while ensuring secure isolation of their infrastructure and data. Multi-tenancy is built into Windows Azure, after all. To enable easy onboarding and workload portability, Windows Azure enables customers to bring their own IP address to our network. Also our global datacenters have to deal with tens of thousands of network changes every day – it would be impossible to manage such scale without software-enabled automation and control. 

Plus, Windows Azure runs on the same Windows Server and Hyper-V platform that we provide to our customers. The exact same. Windows Server and System Center bring our learnings and best practices from operating global scale datacenter networks to you so that you can realize the SDN promise of flexibility, automation and control.  

Let’s now click-down on the key aspects of Microsoft’s SDN solution to help you assess what this means for your organization.  

Built-in and production ready

Windows Server 2012 delivered Hyper-V Network Virtualization that helps you abstract your apps and workloads from the physical network using virtual networks. Virtual networks provide the necessary multitenant isolation while running on a shared physical network fabric, thereby driving up resource utilization. To ensure that you can carry forward your existing investments, virtual networks can be set up on existing networking gear and are compatible with VLANs. It is also worth noting that virtual networks can scale much better than VLANs for your private and hybrid cloud environments. Check out how EmpireCLS is virtualizing network traffic on top of their physical infrastructure using Hyper-V Network Virtualization.

With System Center 2012 SP1 Virtual Machine Manager, you can provision and manage virtual networks at-scale. You can define and control virtual network policies centrally and link them to your apps or workloads. When your workload is deployed or moved, the network configuration adjusts itself automatically. This is important because it removes the need for manual reconfiguration of network hardware, thereby reducing operational complexity while saving your valuable resources for higher-impact work. Virtual Machine Manager also helps you to control traffic flow between virtual networks, including the ability to define guaranteed bandwidth for your critical apps and workloads.

To seamlessly help you move your workloads within and across datacenters and clouds, we’re delivering a software edge gateway in Windows Server 2012 R2 that can be managed by System Center 2012 R2. If you’re in enterprise IT, this gateway will help you easily extend your datacenter boundaries to a service provider or Windows Azure, so that you can deliver hybrid infrastructure on-demand. If you’re a hosting service provider, this means much greater operational efficiency, since this virtual gateway is multitenant-aware and can support multiple customers on a single instance while meeting their throughput and availability needs. 

Open, extensible and standards-based

We want to ensure that customers have the choice of solutions that best support their existing investments and roadmap. We also want to help our partner ecosystem build value-added solutions and extensions on top of Windows Server and System Center. As a testament to our open, extensible and standards-based approach, we have great partner ecosystem momentum for our networking solutions.     

We’re committed to standards-based management to reduce datacenter complexity. This will help us enable datacenter plug-n-play so that devices “just work”. Specifically, we will simplify provisioning and configuration of top-of-rack switches using Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2. As a great example of ecosystem support, Arista Networks announced full support for the Open Management Infrastructure (OMI) technology across all Arista platforms through the Arista EOS (Extensible Operating System) software.

Many customers asked us for the ability to deeply integrate Hyper-V virtual networking into their existing network infrastructure, such as their existing monitoring and security tools. To meet that need,   Windows Server 2012 introduced the Hyper-V Extensible Switch, which enables easy extensions of our hypervisor platform. The Hyper-V Extensible Switch also enables partners to build security and manageability extensions. Cisco announced general availability of their Nexus 1000V extension to the Hyper-V Extensible Switch, including integration with System Center 2012 SP1 Virtual Machine Manager.  Check out this datasheet, whitepaper, and webcast if you’d like to know more about this joint Microsoft/ Cisco solution.  NEC announced System Center 2012 SP1 Virtual Machine Manager based support for their OpenFlow-based Hyper-V switch extension. Additionally, 5NINE and inMon have in-market offerings based on Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V switch extensions. 

To provide additional flexibility and choice for customers, partners are building gateway appliances to bridge physical and virtual networks. F5 announced an appliance-based gateway that will support Hyper-V Network Virtualization environments, including integration with System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager. Huawei announced Hyper-V Network Virtualization gateway support in their core switches for Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2. Finally, Iron Networks announced support for Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 in an update to their in-market network gateway appliance. 

Microsoft is actively participating in industry consortiums like Open Daylight to promote industry standards and customer choice.

Hardware and software innovation

We believe that both hardware and software innovations are required to make these SDN promises real.   This is important for applications that might need direct visibility into the physical network to meet their performance needs, for instance. We continue to work with our network adapter and merchant silicon partners to deliver native hardware performance by ensuring that our platform takes full advantage of their unique hardware capabilities. Mellanox technologies and Emulex announced NVGRE task offload capability in their NICs to optimize network performance. We’re also working with Intel and Broadcom to support Hyper-V Network Virtualization in their chipsets.

Next steps

  • Learn more by viewing our TechEd North America session on SDN
  • Check out Microsoft’s perspective on SDN from the Interop keynote panel last month
  • Register to be notified once the Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 product evaluation bits become available

Over the course of the next few weeks, we’ll be diving much deeper into the Windows Server and System Center networking technologies that can help you eliminate the seams in your network and transform your datacenter. So make sure you’ll check back on this site frequently!  

As always, we’d really like to hear from you, so please feel free to share your thoughts and comments. 

The Get On The Bus tour is coming and we’re bringing some free SWAG!

April 27th, 2010 No comments

The Get On The Bus tour is coming and we’re bringing some free SWAG!


We are giving away 50 copies of Windows 7 Ultimate for the first 50 Get On the Bus event attendees through the door at EVERY STOP! Don’t miss your chance to win a copy of Microsoft’s newest software offering plus some chances at some other great swag so hurry and register today at www.thebustour.com.


What is the “Get On The Bus Tour”? Well, it’s where Microsoft comes to you. We are coming to the East Coast May 21-June 4! Come spend some time with us as we travel the East Coast for a deep dive into Windows 7 and Office 2010, along with a specific path on how to get certified. Learn why Windows 7 has received rave reviews from IT organizations and why so many IT Pros are excited about Office 2010. We will show you best practices for deploying Windows 7 and how to keep it running efficiently after deployment. We will also take a tour through all of the Office 2010 features from an IT Professional’s point of view. Registration is free but limited at http://thebustour.com .


For the latest updates follow us on Twitter @thebustour


Disclaimer:


To receive your free copy of Windows 7 Ultimate, be one of the first 50 people who are US residents (includes D of C) or Canada 18+ to arrive at a Microsoft Get On the Bus Tour afternoon event.  50 copies of the software title are available. Limit one gift per person.  This offer is non-transferable and cannot be combined with any other offer.  This offer ends on June 4, 2010 while supplies last, and is not redeemable for cash.  Taxes, if any, are the sole responsibility of the recipient.  There is no shipment of your gift – all gifts will be distributed onsite.