No worries, this post is in the cloud.
What does that even mean? What is the cloud?
In this context, the cloud is meant as a safe place on the Internet.
The cloud is not the Internet however. In fact, a cloud doesn’t even have to be connected to the Internet at all.
It can be a private cloud when it is provided on the corporate network. A cloud is referred to as a public cloud when it is provided over the Internet.
There are many cloud providers. Amazon Web Services Cloud, Windows Azure Cloud, Rackspace Cloud, Aruba Cloud, Key Cloud, Cloud Sigma, Engine Yard Cloud, Work Express Cloud, Luna Cloud, Dimension Data Cloud, QT Cloud Services, iWeb Cloud, VPS.Net Cloud, Blue iTech Cloud, AppScale Cloud, Digital Ocean Cloud, Progress Rollbase Cloud, Tsuru Cloud, GoGrid Cloud, Voxoz Cloud, Webynode Cloud, Apache Stratos Cloud, and lets not forget the Google Compute Engine Cloud.
With all these cloud providers, who is the Coke, and who is the Pepsi? Amazon is the Coke cloud. Many believe the Pepsi cloud position however is an ongoing battle.
Enter… the Microsoft Cloud.
This post will focus on deconstructing the The Microsoft Cloud.
First of all, lets size it up.
The Microsoft Cloud primary objective is to be highly available. 99.95% available. In IT terms, that’s very little down time, 4 hours a year.
They even guarantee that, with money back if they don’t meet what you agreed to.
The Microsoft Cloud Infrastructure houses all of the Microsoft big tech, like Office 365, Bing, Skype, OneDrive, Xbox Live, and Outlook. Whenever something happens to the Microsoft Cloud, it affects Microsoft too,
There are Cloud data centers across the world today. They are in North America, Europe, Asia, and South America, 10 Geos total, with 3 more about to come online.
Check out the show notes below for a visual of where all the data centers are.
In the Microsoft Cloud, Geography is divided into Cloud Regions. Each Cloud Region contains at least one data center. Each Microsoft Cloud Region is paired with another Cloud Region.
Microsoft will only update one of these pairs at a time, so that at least one of them stays up.
Not all services are available in all regions. Many countries also have privacy laws constraining what can be done with their data. Microsoft pledges to comply with each regions requirements.
Also, the regions that are replicated are at least 500 Km apart, so if one gets nuked, the cloud keeps on running.
Your data is replicated 3 times in each region. You can even have this done 6 times per geo, and across Geos.
We are now going to go into how the Microsoft Cloud data centers are organized internally.
Each cloud data center has from 10‘s of thousands to over 100 thousand servers. The cloud data centers are huge, several Costco’s in size.
Now spanning the planet, the Microsoft cloud is over 2 million servers strong, and growing.
The servers are grouped in racks. These cloud computers don’t look like your desktop or laptop. They are very thin, called blades. The racks themselves are divided into smaller racks. They are stack one on top of the other to a height of 52U, which is over 7 and a half feet tall.
The cloud blades are half as wide as the racks, so 2 blades per 1U slot. There up to 96 servers per rack, with some functioning to server up disk space, up to 60 Terabytes per rack.
20 racks make up a cluster. Sometimes the cloud racks are stored in what look like narrow shipping containers. The cloud containers are then sometimes stacked one on to of the other.
The hardware within the cloud clusters are identical, same CPUs, same memory, making everything easily interchangeable.
All of the wiring is done offsite at the manufacturer. They arrive at the cloud datacenter ready to be plugged in.
If you do the math, 96 servers per rack, 20 rack per cluster, that’s almost 2 thousand servers per cluster.
Check out links on deepspacedrones.com for more cloud data center info.
- Microsoft data center tour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXsoygN_v7A
- Azure regions: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/regions/#overview
- Interactive map of geos and regions: http://azuredatacentermap.azurewebsites.net/
OK, so what can you do in the Microsoft Cloud?
For one thing you can host your Active Directory services there. AD is what manages user identities, password policies and so on, how people log on. AD Certificate Services handles the public key infrastructure or PKI. AD Federation Services handles single sign-on. AD can also handle rights management just like the movie and music industry, but for things like documents and email. The Microsoft Cloud won’t replace your on premises Active Directory. It will extend it into the cloud.
If you don’t use Active Directory on prem, the Microsoft Cloud can provide basic Identity Management.
The Microsoft Cloud can also manage your IP addresses dynamically, or statically depending on you networking needs. You will need these for all of your virtual networks, routers, firewalls and servers you create in the cloud.
These addresses can be private for internal routing, or public so that they are reachable over the Internet.
You can selectively grant or deny traffic to these IP addresses using Network Security Groups and Access Control Lists, and no CPU cycles are used to do this.
At this point the Microsoft Cloud is providing you with an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).
As your infrastructure grows, thing can get a bit complicated. You could end up with hundreds of virtual machines (VMs). For this, the Microsoft Cloud provides Resource Groups. The operations you perform on a Resource Group is also carried out on all the cloud VMs within that group.
The VMs you build in the Microsoft Cloud aren’t done from scratch. There are templates. You need a database server, a few clicks and poof, you have a Microsoft SQL database server. Want an Oracle database server, no problem. Want open source? Spin up some Linux boxes in minutes. You only pay for what you use. When your done, toss them out.
The Microsoft Cloud allows you to VPN in if you like, but offers a faster Express Route service. Both solutions provide a secure connection to you cloud.
If you think you will need higher load capacity you can scale your VMs up, which means choosing cloud VMs with beefier hardware, or scale out, which means adding more cloud VMs.
If you are going to scale out, you will need a cloud-based load balancer, to manage the traffic to your VMs. The networking options go on and on. Your cloud infrastructure is highly scalable.
So what else can you do in the Microsoft Cloud?
Microsoft Cloud Media Services
More and more people are watching video online instead of TV. The Microsoft Cloud supports live and pre-recorded online video streaming.
The Microsoft Cloud is now providing you with a Platform as a Service (PaaS). You don’t need any hardware.
The Cloud Media Streaming can encode multiple live streams at the same time into multiple channels. The Cloud also can provide Digital Rights Management (DRM) so only authorized viewers can watch.
Want to develop a mobile app? Another service from the Microsoft Cloud is the App Service. It provides scalable capabilities to mobile app developers.
This includes online data storage, authentication through the Cloud Active Directory, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and of course Microsoft.
Microsoft Cloud App Services supports push notification, and offline synch, and auto scaling.
You can download the quick start backend template so that your app can interact with the cloud and your users.
There are many more feature of the Microsoft Cloud, like Web Apps, Business Continuity, and Cloud automation to name a few. This was by no means a deep dive.
You just Entered the Microsoft Cloud.
Thank you for reading.