Microsoft is pushing the private cloud with new initiatives around its Azure platform, including a reference programme that will enable customers to buy pre-validated hardware bundles from major vendors, and funding for proof-of-concept work to help customers make the move.
Perhaps the most significant is the Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track programme. This enables vendors to deliver a broad choice of predefined and validated configurations for customers to build private cloud infrastructure based on Windows Server 2008 R2 and Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualisation technology.
As of today, six vendors have signed up to the programme: Dell, Fujitsu, Hitachi, HP, IBM and NEC.
Lucas Searle, Microsoft's private cloud and virtualisation lead in the UK, explained that the Fast Track programme is for customers that want to move existing workloads such as Exchange or web-based applications into a private cloud infrastructure that they control.
"It's infrastructure-as-a-service, as opposed to something like the Azure Appliance which fulfils the platform-as-a-service role for development of new applications and services," he said.
The programme allows vendors to create a reference architecture out of servers, storage and networking products, plus Microsoft's cloud components, thus enabling customers to go to their preferred supplier to build out their private cloud.
Microsoft also announced other initiatives to help customers start out with cloud deployments.
Under the Hyper-V Cloud Accelerate scheme, Microsoft is working with members of its partner network to provide funded assessments, proof of concepts and production deployments for customers.
"Between ourselves and the partners, we will invest funds to allow the customer to basically start moving on that journey," said Searle.
The company is also offering deployment guides, consisting of tools and guidance on how customers can take their current datacentre estate and understand what they need to move forwards with a private cloud.
The final piece is the Hyper-V Cloud Service Provider Programme, through which service providers around the globe will offer fully hosted infrastructure-as-a-service based on Microsoft technology. In the UK, this includes Fasthosts and Hostway.
Also at TechEd, Microsoft announced general availability of its System Center Virtual Machine Manager Self Service Portal 2.0, designed to help customers pool, allocate and manage resources across their entire infrastructure.
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