TechEd: Server 2012 R2 for SMB. Is it Cloud?

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Microsoft talked a lot about what’s new in Server 2012 R2 yesterday. They also went to great lengths to talk about what is Cloud, what isn’t Cloud and how you don’t need to go 100% Cloud. Microsoft sees Azure as part of your future not the entire future.

The message is this: Hyper-V isn’t Cloud because when you manage it you are treating those virtual machines just like physical machines. Cloud is when you have an environment that is charged by processing, managed centrally as a group and sometimes impermanent. Public Cloud includes infrastructure, software, identity and service. Private Cloud includes those things but it resides in your data center, not theirs. Your Private Cloud might include workloads that have some security or business reason to remain on-premise. Microsoft thinks that they have a better offering than their competition because they have a broader definition of Cloud than anyone else. Cloud to Microsoft is everything from infrastructure and active directory to software to services. The competition only offers one piece of that vision of Cloud.

So let’s pull this vision down to SMB. Note that my definition of SMB are companies with fewer than 100 computer users in them. What does the future with Microsoft look like for these companies? These companies today have between 1 and 8 servers. This is my world and if you are reading this as a follower of Third Tier then this is probably  your world too.

If you move your servers into Azure as VM’s, have you just found another way to pay for Infrastructure? And if you do that, is that Cloud? Is the definition of Cloud that Microsoft outlines relevant to SMB?

I think that if you move the VM’s of your servers into Azure that you have adopted a Hybrid Cloud. I say this because in addition to finding an alternative way to pay for infrastructure you also get something that is difficult for SMB to get on-premise. When you create a virtual hard drive you are actually getting three copies of that drive on different physical hardware in the same data center. You get this by default as part of the per minute fee. It’s not an add-on. That’s a nice benefit that adds to the stability of your server. In addition you have the ability to add resources to the VM on the fly. Sure you can do some of that with your on-premise Hyper-V solution but in the Cloud you aren’t constrained by how many drives or sticks of ram the physical hardware supports. It is much easier to grow in the Cloud.

That’s your main benefit to moving your VM’s into Azure. But you’ll still need something onsite because you’ve got to make a site-site VPN from the main office into Azure. You’ll want a fat pipe for that connection too so your users aren’t constrained by bandwidth limitations over the VPN.

Given this the SMB network of the future looks like then is this:

On-Premise virtual or physical machine(s) running only workloads that require ultra-high security or very high performance or larger amounts of data storage <—> a great firewall that is capable of maintaining a site-site VPN with significant bandwidth and automatic failover, reverse proxy is a huge plus <—> Azure virtual machines and Cloud applications.

This is our Cloud.

So who wrote this blog and what do they do for a living anyway?
We’re Third Tier. We provide advanced Third Tier support for IT Professionals.
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