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Microsoft’s Private Cloud

by Eric Kraus

On a frequent basis, I am asked by customers to explain “How Microsoft does….” with a wide variety of fill-in-the-blank technologies and scenarios.  I encourage similar request to first check out: “How Microsoft Does IT”.  However, I wanted to answer a popular request now with a current trend around “the cloud.”  Specifically, the Private and Hybrid Clouds.

Let’s first take a stab at defining these concepts.  Private means using resources that are dedicated to your organization, almost always on-premise.  Hybrid, as you may guess, combines on-premise infrastructure with shared infrastructure hosted by a provider.  There are definite trade-offs between these models – including: cost, control and capability.

The definition of “cloud” is more difficult because it depends on the company and the given pain points within IT.  However, most implementations share similar characteristics.  Most private clouds utilize resource pooling, self-service capabilities, elasticity and pay-by-use services that traditional infrastructure can not provide.

The general benefits of a private cloud include increased agility and responsiveness, reduced TCO, and increased business alignment and focus.  In addition, private clouds are more cost effective because of their ability to maintain higher workload densities and resource utilization.


Microsoft’s Private Cloud offers four specific benefits.  They are All About The App, Cross-Platform Support, Best-in-Class Performance, Cloud on Your Terms.

All About the App

To an business user, it’s all about the App.  Most business users don’t care whether or not their application uses a “cloud” or a “rainbow” to access their data.  Just as long as it works, works well and works always.

Microsoft allows you to manage applications across the entire application lifecycle from design to deployment to upgrades and decommissioning.  System Center 2012 includes a new technology called Server Application Virtualization which allows organizations to simplify their deployment and management of server applications.

Cross-Platform Support

Microsoft understands that customer needs will vary.  Interoperability and cross-platform support from the metal on up is a core value of Microsoft’s Private Cloud.  Technologies supported include:

Hypervisor – Hyper-V, XenServer, VMware ESX/ESXi
Operating System – Windows, Linux: RedHat, SUSE, CentOS)
Application Development Framework – .NET, Java, PHP, Ruby, Python


Best-in-Class Performance

Virtualize applications like SharePoint, SQL Server, and Exchange on Hyper-V for best-in-class performance and scalability.  Test lab results show the scale of Microsoft’s Private Cloud solutions:

  • 450,000 concurrent SharePoint 2010 users on 1 physical host (5 virtual guests)
  • 80,000 OLTP users on 1 physical host (4 virtual SQL Server 2008 R2 guests)
  • 20,000 Exchange 2010 mailboxes on 1 physical host (4 virtual guests)

Microsoft is recognized by Gartner as a top-right Magic Quadrant leader in x86 virtualization.

Cloud on Your Terms

Microsoft recognizes that many organizations have investments across on-premise infrastructure, private/hybrid and public clouds.  Microsoft’s Private Cloud offering includes the following common tools that work across all three infrastructure scenarios:

  • management – System Center
  • identity – Active Directory
  • virtualization – Hyper-V
  • development tools – Visual Studio / .NET

These common tools allow customers to move to the cloud as needed by the organization.  Whether the end goal is to move services to the public cloud or to simply become more mature with on-premise services, Microsoft’s Private Cloud offering enables customers to meet the needs of the business today with the option to adapt when the needs of the business change.




Microsoft’s Private Cloud solution is a cost effective solution for gaining maturity within your IT service offering.  In order to deliver the same level of cloud capability, VMware costs 4.8x as much as Microsoft.



Facts on Microsoft’s Private Cloud Infrastructure.

3,000 host servers (2500 clustered)
15,000 virtual guests

64 blade servers
128 processor sockets, 768 processor cores, 1536 logical processors
12 TB RAM, 16 x 10Gbps Ethernet, 32 x 8Gbps Fibre Channel

MSIT builds 300-400 VMs per month

Migration: MSIT migrated 200,000 configuration manager 2007 clients to 2012 in less than 90 days




Microsoft Private Cloud White Paper

System Center 2012 Capabilities and Feature

How Microsoft IT Uses System Center Virtual Machine Manager to Manage the Private Cloud

How Microsoft IT Developed a Private Cloud Infrastructure

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