The Seamless Hybrid Cloud

27525399 - open window on white wall and the cloudy skyModern cloud computing offers enterprises unprecedented opportunities to manage their IT infrastructure and applications with agility, resiliency, and security, while at the same time realizing significant cost savings. The ability to rapidly scale up and down in the cloud opens countless doors of possibility to use compute and storage resources in innovative ways that were not previously feasible.

But getting to the cloud and managing both cloud and on-premises resources can be a daunting challenge. As a recent Gartner article explains, a Cloud Strategy is a must for organizations. That’s where we at AIS can help – we have years of experience and successes working with enterprises to develop a cloud strategy. We have the resources and expertise to then plan and execute, leveraging the latest technologies and best practices.

For business with on-premises IT resources, the journey to the cloud usually begins with a hybrid approach: Moving some IT resources and applications to the cloud, while keeping others on premises. In fact, there may be some data and applications that will always remain in house, due to compliance or other concerns.

A few weeks ago, at the Ignite conference, Microsoft announced the release of several technologies that will make it easier than ever to seamlessly build out, manage and monitor a hybrid cloud. These include:

Model the On-Premises Datacenter for the Cloud

windows-server-2016With Windows Server 2016, Microsoft pushed many features available in the Microsoft Azure cloud into an on-premises operating system. This allows IT departments to thoughtfully migrate current infrastructure into what becomes an in-house private cloud, then easily transition systems to a cloud service provider like Azure.

At the heart of this solution is a Software-Defined Datacenter, leveraging Microsoft’s industry leading hypervisor virtualization technology. Virtualizing compute, storage and networking allows you to maximize hardware investments and react to changing needs with agility.

Software-Defined Networking provides greater flexibility in designing and adapting network topologies, as well as creating layers of security, without having to wade through cables and physical hardware.

Beef Up Security

Every organization worries about being hacked and the cost of data breaches. Windows Server 2016 provides new and enhanced security features to monitor and protect against threats from within as well as external threats.

Shielded Virtual Machines protect against compromised hosts, using BitLocker encryption and host verification technologies to ensure the VM is being run by a trusted, healthy host. This prevents a malicious admin from stealing a VM image and trying to run it elsewhere.

Credential Guard and Remote Credential Guard provide advanced credential protection, including guarding against Pass-the-Hash attacks. Just-In-Time Administration and Just Enough Administration can be used in a comprehensive least-privilege approach complete with audit trails.

Windows Server 2016 also solves malware protection for servers with a version of Windows Defender optimized for server roles. In addition, Device Guard ensures that only whitelisted trusted software runs, and Control Flow Guard helps protect against memory corruption attacks.

Build Apps for the Cloud

dockerDevelopers want a consistent experience for both traditional and cloud-native applications, whether deploying on-premises or in the cloud. Here, Windows 2016 also delivers, with support for containerization such as Windows Server Containers and Commercially Supported Docker Engine.

The Nano Server is a lightweight version of Windows Server with just the bare necessities, making it more portable, with a smaller footprint and reduced attack service.

In parallel, Microsoft is in its second technical preview of Azure Stack, which allows organizations to run Azure services in their own datacenters. This means you decide which data and applications run on-premises and which in the cloud, but developers can write cloud-first applications without worrying about where it will be deployed.

These and other technologies allow organizations to streamline their DevOps environment and provide consistent, predictable and fully isolated deployments. DevOps is another area of expertise at AIS.

Systems Management: Altogether Now

System Center 2016 provides a plethora of features for deploying, managing and monitoring your Software-Defined Data Center, providing support for heterogeneous environments that include multiple hypervisors and operating systems. Full integration with Operations Management Suite means you have visibility and control of your entire hybrid cloud from a single view. Analytics and threat identification help ensure security and availability of applications.

Your Hybrid Cloud

Cloud services can offer impressive time to value and long-term cost savings and efficiencies. With a well thought out Cloud Strategy, organizations can build out a hybrid cloud to maximize the value of both on-premises datacenters and cloud services. Emerging features in Microsoft Azure and Windows Server 2016 can provide a cohesive experience for IT managers, administrators and developers.

Image copyright: fkdkondmi / 123RF Stock Photo

About David Zientara

David Zientara joined AIS in 2010 with over 15 years of software engineering and architecture experience, much of it utilizing the Microsoft technology stack. His career has spanned industries such as security, digital imaging, health care, education and non-profits with organizations ranging from small start-ups to multi-national corporations. His enthusiasm is currently focused on HTML5 and JavaScript front ends, server-side solutions using technologies like ASP.NET MVC and Web API, and leveraging cloud services. David’s other passions include music, foreign languages and cultures, and travel.