Wednesday, July 24, 2013

"Windows Server [2012 R2]: The Best Infrastructure to Run Linux Workloads"

In the Cloud - What’s New in 2012 R2: Enabling Open Source Software

Part 4 of a 9-part series.


There are a lot of great surprises in these new R2 releases – things that are going to make a big impact in a majority of IT departments around the world. Over the next four weeks, the 2012 R2 series will cover the 2nd pillar of this release: Transform the Datacenter. In these four posts (starting today) we’ll cover many of the investments we have made that better enable IT pros to transform their datacenter via a move to a cloud-computing model.

This discussion will outline the ambitious scale of the functionality and capability within the 2012 R2 products. As with any conversation about the cloud, however, there are key elements to consider as you read. Particularly, I believe it’s important in all these discussions – whether online or in person – to remember that cloud computing is a computing model, not a location. All too often when someone hears the term “cloud computing” they automatically think of a public cloud environment. Another important point to consider is that cloud computing is much more than just virtualization – it is something that involves change: Change in the tools you use (automation and management), change in processes, and a change in how your entire organization uses and consumes its IT infrastructure.


As I noted above, it simply makes logical sense that running the Microsoft workloads in the Microsoft Clouds will deliver the best overall solution. But what about Linux? And how well does Microsoft virtualize and manage non-Windows platforms, in particular Linux?  Today we’ll address these exact questions.

Our vision regarding other operating platforms is simple: Microsoft is committed to being your cloud partner. This means end-to-end support that is versatile, flexible, and interoperable for any industry, in any environment, with any guest OS. This vision ensures we remain realistic – we know that users are going to build applications on open source operating systems, so we have built a powerful set of tools for hosting and managing them.


Windows Server: The Best Infrastructure to Run Linux Workloads [GD:They said it, not me...]


At the core of enabling this single infrastructure is the ability to run Linux on Hyper-V. With the release of Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V, and enhanced by the updates in the 2012 R2 version, Hyper-V is at the top of its game in running Windows guests. We’re delivering this with engineering investments in Hyper-V, of course, but also in the Linux operating system.

You read that correctly – some of the work we are doing at Microsoft involves working directly with the Linux community and contributing the technology that really enables Hyper-V and Windows to be the best cloud for Linux.

Here’s how we’ve done it: Microsoft developers have built the drivers for Linux that we call the Linux Integration Services, or “LIS.” Synthetic drivers for network and disk provide performance that nearly equals the performance of bare hardware. Other drivers provide housekeeping for time synchronization, shutdown, and heartbeat. Directly in Hyper-V, we have built features to enable live backups for Linux guests, and we have exhaustively tested to ensure that Hyper-V features, like live migration (including the super performance improvements in 2012 R2), work for Linux guests just like they do for Windows guests. In total, we worked across the board to ensure Linux is at its best on Hyper-V.

To ensure compliance, Microsoft had done this LIS development as a member of the Linux community. ...


Manage Heterogeneous Environments Using Standards and System Center


For our customers, we wanted to make managing Linux and any CIM-based system simple to automate via PowerShell. We introduced the PowerShell CIM cmdlets in Windows Server 2012 which enable IT pros to manage CIM based systems natively from Windows.


Open Source on Windows

In any IT environment, open source is more than just the operating system. You may be using open source components in your applications, whether you are a vendor offering Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) from the cloud, or an enterprise running open source components in your datacenter.

To provide customers with increased flexibility for running open source-based applications on Windows, Microsoft simplified the process for building, deploying and updating services that are built on Windows. This was achieved through the development of a set of tools called “CoApp” (Common Open source Application Publishing Platform), which is a package management system for Windows that is akin to the Advanced Packaging Tool (APT) on Linux.

Using CoApp, developers on Windows can easily manage the dependencies between components that make up an open source application. Developers will notice that many of the core dependencies, such as zlib and OpenSSL, are already built to run on Windows and are available immediately in the NuGet repository. Through NuGet, CoApp-built native packages can be included in Visual Studio projects in exactly the same manner as managed-code packages, making it very easy for a developer to download core libraries and create open source applications on Windows. Those of you with a developer orientation can get more details on CoApp in these videos: GoingNative - Inside NuGet for C++ and Building Native Libraries for NuGet with CoApp’s PowerShell Tools....



Enabling open source software is a key part of our promise to support the efforts of our customers as they continue to transform their datacenters with the cloud. This enablement is a key tenet of the scenarios we design and build our products to handle. The features and functions that enable open source software are an integral part of our products, and each element of these products are built and tested by our core engineering teams. These efforts are fully supported by Microsoft.

As you might expect for the “Enable OSS” tenet of this 2012 R2 release, key parts of our open source enablement are themselves open source. For example, the Linux Integration Services are open source in the Linux kernel, and Microsoft releases the source code for most of the agents that System Center uses on Linux and UNIX to provide management capabilities. OMI and CoApp are also an open source projects, and, of course, PHP on Windows is part of the PHP open source project.

With this release Microsoft is clearly the choice for datacenter infrastructure if you require the ability to run and manage open source software alongside Windows.


Sorry for the link-bait title, but couldn't resist. That's a strong claim. Given the Microsoft of today, I actually don't think it's too insane or crazy either (imaging say that 10 years ago!) 

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