Microsoft introduces the Cloud OS Network. This is a group of around 25 Internet Service Providers who offer hosted services based on the Microsoft Cloud OS vision.
This Cloud OS vision of Microsoft is based on the idea that organizations (cloud consumers) have a choice where to deploy their applications. Either in Microsoft hosted Azure datacenters, in datacenters hosted by Service Providers or in on-premise, customer owned datacenters. Management of the services are consistent across all platforms and locations. Also applications can easily be moved from for example on-premise to a Service Provider datacenter without having to convert virtual machines.
Cloud OS is not a product but a Microsoft vision and strategy for hybrid cloud. Service Providers who embraced the Cloud OS vision installed Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V, System Center and the Windows Azure Pack in their datacenters. Windows Azure Pack is the software technology which enables a consistent delivery of management and services. For example the management portal used by customers of Service Providers to manage virtual machines and other services has the same look and feel as the Windows Azure Management Portal used in Microsoft hosted public cloud. Also API’s for automation are exactly the same for Windows Azure as for Service Provider managed clouds.
Some services available in Microsoft Azure like Virtual Machines, Web Sites and Service Bus are also available in SP hosted datacenters.
The Cloud OS Network seems to be more focussed towards the Service Provider than towards the cloud consumer. Being part of the Cloud OS Network for sure gives exposure of the Service Provider. The SP can benefit from Microsoft paid and executed marketing campaigns. It probably also gives access to Microsoft knowledge and resources.
What I miss is that Microsoft requires Service Providers to use a Microsoft approved architecture with components like System Center and Hyper-V. Such an architecure would for example require high speed Live migration networks, certain redundancy and strict security. This allows a service provider member of the Cloud OS Network to be recognized as a high quality, Microsoft approved service provider.
update December 17:
It seems Cloud OS Network is more than just a marketing initiative. I found this piece of information at crn.com
The Cloud OS Network is more than just a licensing program: Microsoft works closely with service providers to ensure that their clouds work great in a hybrid way, Numoto said, describing these interactions as deep technical engagements.
For example, single sign-on needs to work across private clouds, service provider clouds and Azure, and virtual machines should be easy to move back and forth between them, Numoto said.
VMware has a Service Provider programme called vCloud Service Provider. VMware sets stringent standards for security, scale, and production readiness. VMware also provides Global Connect. Customers can have a single contract and use cloud services of multiple vCloud Service Providers. This for example can be usefull when for compliancy reasons certain cloud services are required to be located in a particular country.
Interesting to see is that a couple of the SP’s member of the Cloud OS Network offer VMware vSphere to their customers as well. At least CSC, OVH, TeleComputing and Singtel do so. One of the main reasons to start offering Hyper-V based clouds are costs. VMware vSphere combined with vCloud Director or the vCloud Suite is much more expensive than the Microsoft alternative. By using Hyper-V, System Center and the Windows Azure Pack , Service Providers can offer a lower price and be competative.
For many Service Providers Hyper-V+System Center is good enough.
Partners in the Microsoft Cloud OS Network are: Alog, Aruba S.p,A, Capgemini, Capita IT Services, CGI, CSC, Dimension Data, DorukNet, Fujitsu Finland Oy., Fujitsu Ltd, iWeb, NTTX, Outsourcery, OVH.com, Revera, Singtel, Sogeti, TeleComputing, Tieto, Triple C, T-Systems, VTC Digilink en Wortmann AG.
More info on the Cloud OS Network programme in this Microsoft blog. Infomation Week has an interesting article on Cloud OS Network here.