In an announcement that pushes Microsoft deeper into the cloud, Microsoft Server and Tools Business President Satya Nadella officially rolled out Windows Server 2012 -- and offered a big promise for the data center.
In his keynote speech, Nadella said Windows Server 2012 is a cornerstone of the "cloud OS," which provides a consistent platform across private, hosted and public clouds. Microsoft will leverage its market advantage as the most popular operating system to help drive adoption of its new technology.
"The operating system has always been the heartbeat of IT and is now undergoing a renaissance in the new world of continuous cloud services, connected devices and big data," Nadella said, noting that the cloud OS, which is based on Windows Server and Windows Azure, helps expand the boundaries of the data center.
From the Cloud Up
Microsoft likes to say it has built Windows Server 2012 from the cloud up. Windows Server 2012 aims to expand the definition of a server operating system. It promises hundreds of new features, including advancements in virtualization, storage, networking and automation.
Microsoft isn't asking customers to neglect their existing skills or investments in systems management, application development, database, identity and virtualization to take advantage of Windows Server 2012 and cloud computing. In fact, Microsoft said companies could leverage their current technology.
Redmond reports that many customers are already seeing tremendous value in early deployments. A survey of 70 early adopter customers from across the globe revealed that they expect, on average, 52 percent reduction in downtime, 41 percent reduction in workload deployment time, and 15 hours of productivity time saved per year, per employee. Of the companies surveyed, 91 percent expect a reduction in server administration labor, and 88 percent expect reduction in network administration labor.
Should You Consider Upgrading?
We caught up with Directions on Microsoft analyst Michael Cherry to get the inside scoop on how significant this release really is. He told us that although Windows 8 has won most of the media attention because of all the changes to the user interface, apps and processor families, the server team has been quietly adding a lot of incremental improvements to the operating system.
"Enterprises should really consider evaluating Windows Server 2012. It's hard to highlight a specific feature and say it's important because it's going to differ for every company. But they've made a significant number of changes," Cherry said. "With some of them, it's going to take some time for IT admins to determine what it really means for them."
Cherry points to a new ability to move virtual machines from physical server to physical server. While not entirely new, it's historically been more difficult to move virtual machines across a network because of the extra work involved with readjusting IP addresses to avoid conflict.
"Windows Server includes a way to do that. The network has been virtualized in the same way that the hardware has been virtualized, "Cherry said. "I'm excited about that feature, but every organization has to find if their network infrastructure can support that. Secondly, you have to make sure that can do it within the license of the server. There are restrictions on how you can move Microsoft product."