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2015 Predictions: Microsoft Believes in Clouds Everywhere

Central to its predictions is the connected, virtualized datacenter.

Editor's Note: This is one in a series of 2015 predictions for virtualization and cloud computing. It comes courtesy of Chris Van Wesep, director of Product Marketing for Microsoft.

At Microsoft, our 2015 predications for virtualization and cloud fall into a few categories, moving up the stack from the fundamental philosophy on the software deployed to build and manage your infrastructure, to the most efficient means for deployment to connecting with cloud services.

Acceleration of the Software-Defined Datacenter. Most of today's enterprise organizations have garnered a lot of efficiency and economic value over the last decade through the virtualization of their servers. These customers are now evaluating the best way to extend these efficiencies to other parts of their infrastructures; namely, storage and networking.

We believe that 2015 will see a large acceleration in the adoption of solutions targeting software-defined storage and software-defined networking. In our Microsoft Azure datacenters, we leverage industry-standard hardware and then provide the necessary performance and resiliency through software. We believe this is the future for our customers, as well, but it requires a different approach to infrastructure operations.

Specifically, organizations will need to architect for the service rather than the server. This model takes advantage of fully abstracted physical resources and allows the administrator to create resiliency and to also dynamically redeploy resources where they're most needed. These tools will continue to drive up productivity, while optimizing resource utilization.

Mainstreaming of Containers. Apps will continue to fuel the business innovation trajectory in this cloud-mobile era. In that context, developers and app owners will desire the ultimate in productivity and freedom in building, deploying and operating modern applications; nirvana looks like "write once, run anywhere." Such new app patterns will necessitate a need to look beyond existing abstraction mechanisms that were meant to solve for compatibility and hardware efficiencies.

In 2015, we expect new encapsulation technologies, such as containers, will see significant usage, thereby accelerating broad adoption of these new app patterns in highly virtualized/cloud environments. Developers will be able to take advantage of containers to build lightweight, high-density, composable and portable app components -- or "micro-services" -- for distributed line-of-business apps, as well as for certain task patterns (for example, batch jobs).

In 2015, we also expect to see more advancements in container lifecycle management technologies, including the ability to orchestrate multiple container instances/clusters that compose various app tiers. We anticipate secular innovation in this space with multiple developer ecosystems of interest, such as Windows and Linux, coming together to drive "dev-ops" innovation.

Faster Time to Value with Converged Infrastructure. Because most enterprises are highly virtualized today, many are now looking to enjoy the benefits of a true private cloud environment in their datacenters. This includes easy self-service access to Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) services to keep pace with the rapid innovations today's businesses demand.

However, many companies have learned that deploying an enterprise-grade private cloud can be very difficult. It requires standardization of images and processes, then a high degree of automation. Many times it also requires rethinking of organizational structures to properly support this new model of infrastructure and application management. Whether they're trying to piece together commercial or open source technologies, the process can involve significant customization and integration services.

At Microsoft, we believe that 2015 will be the year that many more organizations come to the realization that a converged system is the best approach to optimizing time to value. This is not just something that brings together compute and storage into a single box; rather it's a device that can deliver IaaS and PaaS services and was actually designed for the services (not the servers) by including multiple layers of resiliency. Optimally, this device is also consistent with a public cloud service, to allow for continual innovation and flexibility. This is what customers think of when they think enterprise-grade private cloud.

Connected Cloud Services. Cloud service delivery bridges the IT need for stability and control with the growing agility and needs of the business. It's the reason developers in the business are using agile, consumer-like third-party cloud resources to provision a VM in minutes, rather than the days or weeks it can take with the in-house IT department.

Cloud service delivery also needs a high degree of flexibility to serve the unique needs of the business. In 2015, Microsoft sees connected cloud services becoming the demand from all customers, and will deliver this through consistent infrastructure, portal, IaaS and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) services across public cloud, services provider and on-premises environments. The benefit of this consistency is that application development and deployment activities can happen regardless of the destination cloud (or clouds), enabling application mobility and customer flexibility of choice.

As customers move more aggressively toward a connected service model, their management tools will need to evolve with them. With greater pressure for management as service, ingestion and analysis of Big Data and new application support platforms, Microsoft sees 2015 as an evolution for management services. That involves taking the best-in-class on-premises management tools today, and evolving this with the power of cloud and connected services. Using the cloud to shift complex system such as data collection, reporting, analysis and data warehousing to service lead models, providing an integrated system supporting both on-premises and public cloud investments.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.

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