ANAHEIM, CALIF. – Microsoft Corp. continued to move its products “tothe cloud” on Wednesday as it released an early developer preview of WindowsServer 8.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took to the stage on day two of the MicrosoftBUILD developer conference to tell attendees that every one of its corebusinesses will be optimized for the cloud. He added that “reimaginingWindows,” including the significantly revamping of Windows Server 8, is necessaryto completely overhaul Microsoft into a cloud services company.
The new Windows Server release was dubbed by Ballmer and pretty much everyother Microsoft executive at BUILD as the “ultimate cloud OS.” The platform,the company said, will provide “multi-tenant infrastructure” for cloudservices.
Bill Laing, the corporate vice-president of Microsoft’s server and clouddivision, said driving the new features in Windows Server 8 was the need forincreased virtualization scalability, simplified management of multiple serversand support for mobile workers and their mobile devices. He said that theupdated product will fit businesses of all sizes, from small businesses lookingto back up to the cloud or large enterprises building out extensive private orhybrid cloud infrastructure.
With this release, Microsoft is also pushing developers to use the identitymanagement and development tools in its Windows Azure platform to create appsand services that can work across multiple clouds.
While Microsoft added hundreds of new features to the product, an immediatelynoticeable change for IT administrators will be the new Server Manager UIscreen. This slick looking interface takes some of its visual cues from thetile-based Windows 8 UI and replaces the old MMC management screens.
Using the management screen, admins can check out events and performance alertson their local and virtual servers. The interface has also been upgraded with aboatload of filtering and search capabilities to eliminate a lot of on-screenclutter.
“We were focused on making manageability easy” said Mike Neil, general managerof Windows Server. “Server Manager also has the new Metro look and feel to it.”
Behind Server Manager is Microsoft’s scripting language PowerShell, which hasbeen made easier to use in this release. In Server Manager, uses will be ableto call up the PowerShell pane to view the PowerShell commands behind the UIand use them to automate their servers.
Everything in Windows Server 8 can be managed through PowerShell scripting asMicrosoft has increased the number of commands to over 2,300.
Linked to its claim that Windows Server 8 is a “cloud-based” server OS,Microsoft also touted a bunch of improvements to its Hyper-V virtualizationplatform. This was necessary, it said, as more and more Windows Serverinstances are becoming virtual.
Live migration capabilities have been substantially updated in the new OS,extending that feature beyond migration of VMs across physical machines to themovement of virtual hard disks from one storage device to another. All an ITadmin needs is an IP connection from one host to another to migrate a VM, withno clustered storage required.
The new Hyper-V has also been improved to support 160 processors and up to 2 TBof RAM, while VMs can have up to 32 virtual CPUs and 512 GB of RAM. Users willfind that Microsoft has updated the virtual switch found in the hypervisor aswell, which gives them the ability to set minimum and maximum bandwidthguarantees.
These updates are just a few of a laundry list of Hyper-V updates Microsoft hasin store for the final release of Windows Server 8.
Another new storage feature is the built-in data deduplication, which automaticallydetects duplicate data and puts those files into a separate store in SystemVolume Information to reduce storage space.
Microsoft is also adding dynamic access control to Windows Server 8, which letsIT control file access to their staff. Users