Microsoft preparing for the software-defined future

20 January 2015

Server, network and storage virtualization will become industry-standard technologies over the next few years, and Microsoft is looking to get a piece of the pie. 

Hyper-V and Windows Server are two solutions that promise to support software-defined systems, and the next iterations of these two solutions may convince some IT professionals to enroll in Microsoft certification courses, depending on whether new features and workflows warrant further education. 

Affordable, scalable storage software 
EWeek's Pedro Hernandez commented on the next release of Windows Server, citing commentary from two members of Microsoft's high availability and storage group – Principal Program Manager Claus Joergensen and Senior Program Manager Ned Pyle. Joergensen emphasized the importance of being able to run software-defined storage solutions over commodity hardware. 

"You can take standard, off-the-shelf server hardware and you can build [a] high-availability storage solution as well [as] a high-availability compute solution without the need for traditional specialty hardware," said Joergensen, as quoted by Hernandez. 

Joergensen noted an "automatic rebalancing" feature that enables Windows Server users to add new nodes and allow Windows Server to optimize information placement without any manual assistance. Basically, if an administrator wanted to upgrade from a four-node set to a six-node set, he or she could disperse the data across those additional two nodes and benefit from the performance gain without having to manufacture a new virtual disk or deploy new virtual machines. 

The next release of Hyper-V
While it can be deployed as a standalone solution, Microsoft's Hyper-V, a native hypervisor that allows workers to create VMs on x86 and x64 systems, is being positioned as a competing solution of those produced by VMware, which specializes in virtualization technology. 

According to Redmond Magazine's Brien Posey, in order to make Hyper-V a viable alternative to VMware's solutions, the technical preview of the next iteration of Hyper-V is "less about introducing new features and more about laying the ground work for the future." From what he's seen so far, Posey made the following predictions regarding what Hyper-V will have to offer professionals:

  • A better management experience: It's possible that Microsoft will unveil an administration tool that not only allows users to conduct basic and complex responsibilities, but also allows customers to view virtualization infrastructures comprehensively. 
  • Enhanced reading: Posey confirmed that Microsoft creating two new file types – .VMCX and .VMRS. While the latter will store runtime state information, the former will store VM configuration data. 

One thing is for sure: Microsoft is doing whatever it can to reassert itself as a leader in enterprise software, including the backend solutions IT professionals use to support infrastructures. 

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