Friday, September 23, 2011

Windows Server 8 Optimized for Cloud


Windows Server 8 Optimized for Cloud

The developer preview bits for the new server are currently available to MSDN subscribers.

Microsoft highlighted its next-generation server technology, code-named "Windows Server 8," during the Day 2 keynote at its Build conference for developers on Wednesday. Windows Server 8 is designed to support the transition from client/server applications to continuous services running in the cloud, according to Microsoft.

"You need to run a continuous service, and that means you want to be able to build continuously, deploy continuously, monitor continuously, said Satya Nadella, president of the Server and Tools Business at Microsoft. "There's going to be a sea change for us as developers in terms of how we triage, for example, the operational metrics of your code performance, the bug database, as well as the build that you have from either IT or a service provider. This world of dev ops is something that's going to really change how we think about application architecture. This design point is the core motivation that has led to us building our deep and broad platform across Windows Server 8 and Windows Azure," he said.

Windows Server 8 shares some symmetries with Windows Azure, Nadella said. Microsoft is making changes in Windows Server 8 to address how cloud or virtualized infrastructures are provisioned to support workloads. Microsoft is improving Windows Server 8 to leverage high-availability infrastructures using high-scale clusters. Nadella also said Microsoft is continuing to invest in supporting scale-up infrastructures, without going into the details.

A new Windows Server 8 capability highlighted at Build Day 2 is "storage spaces." It will allow users to take just-a-bunch-of-disks (JBOD) collections and carve out a space or pool that shows up as drive using the new Server Manager. Users can use this feature to simply attach JBODs to Windows Server 8, explained Brian Surace, a senior program manager on the Windows team. No external storage array was used to create the pool. The improved Server Message Block 2.1 (SMB 2.1) protocol was used to help make this pooled storage available, he said.

With regard to Windows Server 8 networking using Hyper-V, Surace noted that the system drive for a virtual machine can be supported by a remote file share in Windows Server 8, which is a new feature. Performance can be improved by using the SMB 2.1 protocol and remote direct memory access (RDMA) technology along with multiple high-speed network interface cards (NICs). Surace demonstrated how the data transfer rate of a 1 GB NIC can bump up to 2 GB via the use of SMB 2.1 and RDMA technologies. The improved throughput was accomplished by using only 15 percent of the NIC's throughput and one percent of the CPU processing power on the server, Surace said.

On the virtualization front, Microsoft has improved its live migration feature that was first delivered in Windows Server 2008 R2. Live migration in Windows Server 2008 R2 allowed users to move virtual machines from one physical computer to another with little service disruption. However, the migration presumed that "the virtual hard disk always remained consistent on shared storage," Surace explained.

"Now, with Windows Server 8, we can actually move that virtual hard disk from one storage device to another without any service downtime or interruption." In the demo, he showed how to move a virtual hard disk from local storage to a remote file share without disrupting services.

Nadella signaled that Microsoft will have a lot more to say about Windows Server 8 in the near future. The bits for the new server, which are currently available at the "developer preview" stage, were released today just for Microsoft's MSDN subscribers.

Bill Lang, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Server and Tools Division, has given some hints about the efforts that have gone into building the Windows Server 8 in a blog post today. Microsoft used multiple customer surveys and meetings to formulate its plans, which were based on receiving more than 6,000 customer requirements, he indicated.

Lang, who spearheads the engineering efforts on Windows Server and Windows Azure, had kicked off a two-day Microsoft event called the "Windows Server 8 Reviewer Workshop," which was held late last week in Redmond, Wash. The event featured presentations by Windows Server 8 team members. More details from that event will be described.

It's not clear when Windows Server 8 will be available, but it may arrive close to the Windows 8 client product delivery schedule since the server and client share a common code base. Microsoft has released no details, but experts predict April 2012 as an early estimate for delivery of the Windows 8 product or sometime in 2013.