Since I have blogged about government cloud computing in the past, I wanted to share some new information that might help you, particularly if your organization is thinking about implementing a private cloud.
As many of you may already know, one of the key requirements placed on government agencies that are considering cloud technologies is the need to comply with laws and policies related to data sovereignty. This requirement means that the processing and storage of data within your government cloud must occur inside the boundaries of the country or region in which your organization is located. Unfortunately, if your country or region is outside of the area where a cloud vendor houses their datacenters, it precludes you from using that cloud vendor's services and you must consider building out your own private cloud. This may require new learning, skill sets, and technologies that may take some time to assemble into your own private cloud offering. However, it can be done. We do, in fact, have several customers in Canada and Spain (to name a couple of examples) who have successfully implemented their own private clouds.
With this in mind, I'm excited to share some news recently announced at our Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto, Canada, that Microsoft is bringing Windows Azure Services to Windows Server 2012! This means that as the offering matures you will be able to run Azure Services on Windows Server in your own datacenter, allowing you to build out your own private cloud infrastructure using the out-of-box cloud technology that Microsoft itself deploys in Windows Azure, while also being able to meet your data sovereignty requirements. This announcement was presented along with a new accompanying icon that lends additional context to the direction of this offering as "One Consistent Platform, Microsoft, On Premises, Service Providers" as seen below.
The first wave of this community technology preview of Azure Services on Windows Server is targeted at hosting providers, but there is no reason why you can't download the bits yourself to get familiar with this technology in order to implement your own Azure-based private cloud. The first wave includes Windows Azure scale-out websites, scale-out virtual machines (Windows Server and Linux VMs), and the service management portal and API to Windows Server. There are some key components missing in this release that would be required for an enterprise deployment like active directory support, but keep in mind that this is a first-time offering designed for hosting partners and not enterprise customers. That said I can't wait to see this offering develop over time and see what new capabilities will be added. This is definitely something to keep an eye on. I will keep you posted here in this blog.
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