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Targeting cloud, Microsoft set to revamp major enterprise software platforms

Tim Greene | June 4, 2013
At TechEd: Windows Server, SQL Server, others get second major refresh in a year, focus on hybrid cloud.

Microsoft today is showing off improvements to most of its enterprise infrastructure software designed to make it simpler for businesses to deploy hybrid cloud services that can allocate resources as needed.

The announcements at its annual TechEd North America conference come about a year after the company delivered a major overhaul of the same platforms -- Windows Server, SQL Server, Visual Studio and System Center -- as well as new features in its Azure cloud service and Intune PC- and device-management service.

This is a new, accelerated pace the company is adopting for updates and upgrades to it software offerings, driven by its experience developing features and management tools it needs to run Azure, says Brad Anderson, Microsoft vice president of Windows Server and System Center. He calls this cloud-first engineering.

"We are literally refreshing every one of the on-premises infrastructure products from Microsoft," says Anderson, who will be detailing the new features at the conference in New Orleans.

These include Microsoft's much touted Hekaton technology, which can speed up the transaction-processing time of SQL Server transactions and improve deduplication, possibly reducing the storage footprint of data in Windows Server more than 90%, he says.

Upgrades to Visual Studio include tools for IT staff to create virtual machines of application servers that are glitchy and ship them to developers where they can be fixed offline, he says.

Many of the new feature were proved first in Azure and are now being pushed into on-premises products, Anderson says, actually using Azure code in the enterprise products.

All the new versions will be available for preview later in June via download from Microsoft sites and all except for SQL Server will be shipped by the end of the year.

Hybrid clouds use a mix of private cloud infrastructure owned by businesses, public cloud services and Microsoft's own Azure cloud services, which it regards as distinct from a public cloud service.

The company will be releasing Windows Azure Pack, which lays the Azure Web portal to Windows Server and System Center on-premises products.

Also on tap for Anderson's keynote is a description of some of the new features coming with Windows 8.1, the first major upgrade to the new desktop operating system.

Here are details of the features that will be described and demonstrated at TechEd:

Windows Server 2012 R2
Windows Server has advances in software-defined networking that include partner announcements about extending and enhancing Hyper-V network virtualization. This includes a site-to-site VPN gateway that automatically creates secure links between data centers and assets in service provider networks.

Through software, storage can now be accommodated on commodity server hardware rather than dedicated SAN infrastructure.


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