The pace of development in Microsoft’s server division is impressive.
It is behind Amazon in public cloud infrastructure as a service, and behind VMware in virtualisation, but in hybrid cloud Microsoft is ahead of any competition.
The commitment to virtualisation is paying off, with Hyper-V now competing strongly and deeply integrated into Windows Server. Businesses opting for a Microsoft platform datacentre designed for a private cloud model will benefit from an array of new features in Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center R2.
The caveat is that if you dive into the detail of configuring and managing Windows Server, it is complex and at times frustrating thanks to its elaborate security model, dependencies and potential conflicts between different features. Progress towards a more componentised Windows Server continues but slowly. Windows Server is behind Linux in automated deployment, though the introduction of PowerShell’s Desired State Configuration is an important step forward.
A look at Windows Azure Pack though confirms that once correctly provisioned and configured, the self-service cloud model is excellent for both users and administrators. It is the right direction for Windows Server.