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Technology / Networks

Q&A: Microsoft’s Wayne Meyer talks Windows Server 8 and the Cloud

While the emergence of cloud computing has long been water cooler conversation in IT departments around the world, Wayne Meyer, Microsoft’s UK Windows Server Product Manager, believes his company is taking it to the next level by making cloud integration a key part of its new Windows Server 8.

Windows Server 8 (not its finalised name), was released as a beta on March 1, following a developers preview late last year. Microsoft is already calling it ‘possibly the most significant release of Windows Server ever.’

Meyer told CBR that the uptake by IT professionals has been excellent, and the company has been getting great feedback on what it considers a generational shift in server technology.

Unlike its more controversial counterpart, Windows 8, which has focused on tablet design with its new Metro touch interface, Server 8 is focused more on backend functionality.

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Metro still features, but for most administrators, it will only be used when they need to switch tools. Most of the user’s time will be spent in Server Manager – which is more recognisable to 2008 RC2 and NT4.0-variant users.

While there are a host of technical upgrades, Meyer is most excited about the cloud capabilities of the new server OS.

"I think the market is at a place now where the market has an appetite for private cloud and an appetite for IT as a service. Our feedback is that interest on having a single access point to deliver these kinds of services to consumers is really, really high," he said.

Meyer claims that Windows Server 8 is the first ever operating system optimised to be cloud-based OS.

"It has been the focus from day one. We are looking to give our customers the tools to create these online networks, whether it’s on premises private cloud or an off premises public cloud, or even a hybrid of the two," he said.

"The key thing is that it’s a single managed environment with security, storage, virtual networks all managed from one location."

While that sounds simple, the meshing together of on premise cloud applications, such as Microsoft Exchange 2010, with looser, more consumer based public cloud initiatives, such as Office 365 or Windows Live, has never really been pulled off cleanly.

"It really is the first cloud optimised OS. We’re taking the experience we’ve gained from our cloud experiences such as Office 365, Windows Live, even XBOX live and incorporating that into a single OS environment," he said.

From Microsoft’s perspective, we’re all in here – from our server environments, to PCs to our mobile phone environments."
Meyer maintains that this horizontal integration of all its cloud products is what sets it apart from it’s mostly Unix based rivals, such as Red Hat.

"We take this entire portfolio of products and put them together to produce a single consistent user experience. Whether you’re on premise in a private cloud or offsite in a public cloud, consistency is incredibly important now. Things like trackable ID and knowing how individuals move between sites, virtualisation, virtual networks, and virtual servers – we believe that building that into the fabric of this OS and bringing it together for a consistent experience is key, and will continue to be for any modern OS."

Another key feature that is a new version of Windows PowerShell, its command line shell and scripting language, which Meyer claims now has an additional 2800 commands and script lists.

Windows Server 8, along with Windows 8, will include a new version of Hyper-V. The new features include network virtualization, multi-tenancy, storage resource pools, cross-premise connectivity, and, of course cloud backup.

Meyer adds that it’s not all about Microsoft products: Hyper V will also work with competing Hypervisors and rival technologies, including support for items such as iPhones and Android devices.

"It’s also about providing services for not just Microsoft enabled devices. It’s about being able to offer these services across a multitude of different environments. That one of our goals to branch across out of Microsoft products, say into Apple iPhones, and give non-Microsoft users that same beautiful experience," he said.

Unfortunately Meyer was unwilling to discuss any product release timeframes. There is still no firm date for release of Server 8, nor its client counterpart Windows 8. He would also not discuss the length of the beta cycle: "it’s ready when it’s ready."

Meyer also wouldn’t offer any projections on pick up rates, pricing or rollout plans, either short or long term.

Despite the rampant enthusiasm for the cloud, Meyer does believe that most customers will remain in a hybrid cloud environment for a few years to come.

"Our vision is all about the cloud. We want our consumers to be able to move within the cloud seamlessly – whether they do that quickly and move into a public service, or more slowly – in stages, such as in a private or hybrid model. We want to give our customers that choice," he said.
This article is from the CBROnline archive: some formatting and images may not be present.