the Private Cloud Fast Track
Microsoft Private Cloud
Fast Track Reference
Architecture Program
How to reduce private cloud risk and complexity while driving efficiency through the
Fast Track Reference Architecture Program
Table of Contents
Private Cloud Overview.................................................................... 4
Business Value .................................................................................................................................................................... 4
Technical Value................................................................................................................................................................... 5
Private Cloud Operating System Vision ................................................................................................................ 5
New in R2 .............................................................................................. 7
Windows Server 2012 R2 .............................................................................................................................................. 7
System Center 2012 R2.................................................................................................................................................. 9
Windows Azure Pack.....................................................................................................................................................11
Impact of Differences to Private Cloud Offering ............................................................................................13
Private Cloud Fast Track Reference Architecture ...................14
Compute ..............................................................................................................................................................................16
Storage .................................................................................................................................................................................17
System Center 2012 R2................................................................................................................................................18
Fabric Logic Architecture ............................................................................................................................................18
Why Fast Track? ...............................................................................................................................................................20
Conclusion .......................................................................................... 20
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Copyright Information
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reference purposes. You may modify this document for your internal, reference purposes.
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Private Cloud Overview
Private cloud computing shares many of the same characteristics of public cloud computing, including
resource pooling, self-storage, elasticity, and pay-by-use, all delivered in a standardized manner with
additional control and customization available from dedicated resources. The major difference between
public and private cloud is that private cloud uses resources which are dedicated to your organization.
The key benefits of cloud computing are pooled resources, self-service, elasticity, and bandwidth usage.
With private cloud, you have the added benefits of control and customization, because the cloud is
dedicated to you.
While virtualization is an important component of private cloud, private cloud allows for abstraction of
computing resources from infrastructure and the machines, virtual or otherwise. With private cloud, higher
workload density and greater resource utilization lead to better cost effectiveness than virtualized
Business Value
Enterprises that choose to implement a private cloud solution experience a variety of business benefits,
including increased utilization and decreased administrative burden on IT staff. Private cloud reduces
deployment costs by allowing organizations to leverage the investments they have already made in large
data centers, servers, supporting infrastructure, and management software to create a dynamic, fullyautomated cloud. For organizations that want to leverage new hardware capabilities, there are many
programs to help deployment of these new hardware architectures. Private cloud increases the utilization
of existing infrastructure, which decreases costs. According to David Linthicum of Gigaom Research,
utilizing private cloud can increase utilization from 40 percent up to 75 percent or 85 percent, and give
administrators detailed insight concerning how the infrastructure is being used2.
With the type of automation enabled through private cloud, the hands-on provisioning for multiple
workloads performed by administrators is decreased, allowing them to focus on strategic functions.
Private cloud allows enterprises to better meet its business needs by customizing according to its
technology, standards, application, and users. As a result, users enjoy a self-service experience.3 The
increase in utilization leads to improved systems availability and more highly-scalable platforms to meet
escalating demands. Another benefit of private cloud is the flexibility to integrate with other public and
private cloud resources. When determining if private cloud is the right option for your organization, it is
import to consider if your organization is ready from an internal system perspective. For more information
on assessing if your organization is ready, please see Private Cloud: A Technical Perspective and Define
Your Private Cloud Strategy. Unlike public clouds, the enterprise needs to purchase, configure, and
maintain the hardware and software. Additionally, it is important to assess the organizational readiness for
the private cloud in terms of skills within the company for design, maintenance, and installation.
“Microsoft Private Cloud.”
Linthicum, David. “Are Private Clouds Worth It?” Gigaom Pro. 13 Feb. 2013.
“Tech Debate: Cloud: Public or private?” NetworkWorld.
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Technical Value
The technical benefits of adopting a private cloud service, when properly deployed, should include:
performance, reliability, security, and control. From a performance perspective, organizations experience
greater bandwidth and lower latency as a result of private cloud implementation, while also providing a
more consistent experience worldwide. Private cloud gives IT departments control of their infrastructure
solution and allows enterprises to customize their data center, achieve greater acceleration when
deploying workloads, and better optimize the enterprise’s cloud infrastructure management.
With a private cloud, enterprises experience better reliability through redundant and scalable
architectures. Use of private cloud allows IT departments to set up solutions that have excellent uptime
characteristics and operations support. Run time for private cloud is significantly higher than the 99.5
percent uptime commonly available in other computing options.
With the private cloud, organizations have control over their data: who has access, where it is stored, and
how it is transferred4. The additional flexibility benefits organizations as they can more quickly shift to
meet business needs. Some organizations may choose private over public because it better meets the
needs of those in IT who are maintaining core enterprise systems. For some, trusting a third party with
core business processes and data is not an option 5.
Private cloud gives IT departments more control in terms of networking choices and billing options. In
terms of billing, enterprises can set up their own costing models and cost recovery models for
chargeback. By controlling their own network, IT pros have the ability to manage who can access the
network and what users have access to.
Private Cloud Operating System Vision
The Microsoft private cloud solution is composed on the software side of a combination of Windows
Server with Hyper-V and System Center, which together provide enterprise-class virtualization, end-toend service management, and deep insight into applications so you can focus more attention on
delivering business value. Microsoft private cloud is best illustrated through four key pillars: all about the
app, cross-platform from the metal up, foundation for the future, and cloud on your terms.
All About the App
In today’s business environment, a central mission of IT is to deploy applications faster and keep them up
and running more reliably. IT must go beyond just managing infrastructure and provide deep allocation
insight and management of services. With Microsoft private cloud, IT pros can optimize the application
lifecycle with service templates and self-service to improve availability and performance with deep
application monitoring and diagnosis.
With Microsoft private cloud, IT pros can deliver new and legacy applications on a self-service basis and
manage them across private cloud and public cloud environments. With stronger management, IT pros
can see what’s happening inside the performance of applications and address issues faster, before they
“Tech Debate: Cloud: Public or private?” NetworkWorld.
Linthicum, David. “Are Private Clouds Worth It?” Gigaom Pro. 13 Feb. 2013.
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severely impact users’ efficiency. The ultimate effect is better customer satisfaction, better service-level
agreements (SLA), and a higher level of agility.
Cross-Platform from the Metal Up
In today’s IT environment, a heterogeneous environment is common with a wide range of operating
systems, hypervisors, and development tools in the mix. Microsoft’s open and comprehensive approach
puts customer’s needs ahead of any particular technology, helping IT departments to implement private
cloud without walking away from existing IT investments or adding new layers of complexity.
The comprehensive management of heterogeneous IT environments in the Microsoft private cloud helps
IT departments to manage and monitor multiple operating systems. IT pros can drive process automation
and configuration across platforms and toolsets, and develop applications using multiple application
toolsets. With the flexibility to use any technology or vendor for infrastructure needs, organizations can
put business needs first.
Foundation for the Future
The Microsoft private cloud helps organizations to go beyond virtualization to a true cloud platform,
which will have long-term implications in terms of providing agility for various IT environments. Using
Microsoft private cloud, enterprises benefit from the best-in-class performance for key Microsoft
workloads, such as SharePoint, Exchange, Lync, and SQL Server. The Microsoft private cloud platform and
management approach was designed to be comprehensively and deeply integrated, spanning the private
and public cloud.
The Microsoft private cloud solution offers the economics of the private cloud with easy virtualization
rights licensing. Using a private cloud solution can help enterprises to attain higher levels of utilization of
server resources: a dedicated server may not run at full processor and hard disk capacity, but given its
dedicated nature, it will not be able to take on additional capacity. With Hyper-V, IT administrators can
get additional utilization by running more than one process on the same machine. The private cloud helps
enterprises to take advantage of the capabilities Microsoft built to utilize servers as efficiently as possible,
and use fewer computing resources to perform the same workload.
Cloud on Your Terms
In order to experience the benefits of public and private cloud computing, organizations need the ability
to leverage existing investments, infrastructure, and skill sets to build the right mix of public and private
cloud solutions. IT departments can distribute services across physical, virtual, and cloud computing
models because of Microsoft’s common set of management, identity, virtualization, and development
technologies. Additionally, IT departments have the power to construct and manage clouds across
multiple data centers, infrastructures, and service providers. With Microsoft private cloud, IT departments
can delegate authority and tools to enable self-service across environments while retaining control across
the private and public clouds for compliance and security. 6
Microsoft private cloud allows enterprises to focus on primary business value through application services
management and make the best use of current investments and skills. IT departments can deliver greater
customization and control by providing the increased scale and flexibility of cloud computing on
dedicated resources while managing across public and private clouds through common management,
“Microsoft Private Cloud.” November 2012.
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identity, and developer tools. Additionally, Microsoft private cloud provides the flexibility to build
solutions that work across platforms.
System Center tenant-based utilization of resources can be viewed to enable chargeback and billing.
Enterprise-friendly identity providers are supported to authenticate and authorize tenants. Additionally, IT
pros can subscribe to select Azure services hosted on the cloud platform from their service provider. With
Microsoft private cloud, a quick-responding portal can be offered to tenants, as well as an API user
experience that scales across an organization’s infrastructure. Other benefits include offering backup
services, monitoring, and troubleshooting of hosting fabric. Virtual machines and virtual machine services
can be managed via a web-facing API that is consistent with Azure and can manage multi-virtual machine
services in a single portal experience. Web site and service bus service can be easily set up, configured,
and managed. With Microsoft private cloud, Windows and Linux virtual machines can be created from a
volume of templates. Additionally, applications can be built that leverage websites as a service in
Windows Server 2012 R2.
New in R2
With the release of Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2, Microsoft has strengthened its
Private Cloud solution with new features and enhanced alignment between tools. The section below
outlines the advances made in Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 that highlight the
features needed to build a private cloud. These features have been selected to highlight the private cloud
advancements made in the Windows Server 2012 R2 release.
Windows Server 2012 R2
Server Virtualization
Windows Server 2012 R2 with Hyper-V provides the platform and tools needed to increase business
agility7. Live migration is an important virtual machine mobility feature that has been improved in
Windows Server 2012 R2 by allowing the administrator to configure optimal performance options when
moving virtual machines to a different server. This can reduce the overhead for network and CPU usage,
as well as reducing the time it takes to perform a live migration. Hyper-V live migration has also been
updated to support the move from Windows Server 2012 to Windows Server 2012 R2, and upgrading to a
new version of Windows Server no longer requires downtime to the virtual machines.
In addition to the standard TCP/IP method used by Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012, Windows Server
2012 R2 includes a compression option, which compresses the memory content of the virtual machine to
be migrated before copying it over to the destination server via TCP/IP connection. Windows Server 2012
R2 also includes support for SMB 3.0 connections. For more information, see Improve Performance of a
File Server with SMB Direct.
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Windows Server 2012 R2 provides complete flexibility with multiple options for guest clustering to meet
the needs of service providers with multi-tenant environments. Windows Server 2012 R2 offers shared
VHDX files in addition to Fibre Channel, iSCSI, and server message block (SMB). VHDX can be stored either
on a scale-out file server cluster or on Cluster-shared Volumes (CSL) on block storage. For a virtual
machine that is part of the guest cluster, shared VHDX clustering preserves dynamic memory, live
migration and storage live migration.
Hyper-V Replica is another update to Windows Server 2012 R2. Hyper-V Replica provides a storageagnostic and workload-agnostic solution that replicates efficiently, periodically, and asynchronously over
IP-based networks, typically to a remote site. Additionally, ongoing replication will not be disrupted while
an administrator tests the replica virtual machine. It allows for variable (configurable) replication
frequencies down to 30 seconds or up to 15 minutes and also supports multiple nodes, which means that
tertiary replica sites are supported.
Windows Server 2012 R2 integrates with heterogeneous IT environments and supports a cross-platform
cloud infrastructure by adding comprehensive functional support for Linux guests running on top of
Hyper-V. Full dynamic memory support for Linux guests was introduced in Windows Server 2012 R2,
including a minimum memory setting, Hyper-V smart paging, memory ballooning, and runtime
configuration. With Windows Server 2012 R2 there is no manual step involved to take advantages of Linux
Integration Services.
Windows Server 2012 R2 was designed with a strong focus on storage capabilities to meet growing
storage demands. With storage tiering, a new feature in Windows Server 2012 R2, high-capacity spinning
disks are used to store less frequently used data, while high-speed solid state disks are reserved to store
frequently used data. By letting you store server application data on file shares and obtain a similar level
of reliability, Windows Server 2012 R2 reduces server downtime and application disruption.
New in Windows Server 2012 R2, SMB sessions can be managed per share (not just per file server), which
increases flexibility. Windows Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager is another new feature in Windows Server
2012 R2, which offers a robust recovery solution that can protect data centers by automating the
replication of the virtual machines that compose them at a secondary location. Windows Azure Hyper-V
Recovery Manager also provides continuous health monitoring of the primary data center, and it helps
automate the orderly recovery of services in the event of a site outage at the primary data center.
Windows Server 2012 R2 makes it more straightforward to manage an entire network as a single entity,
giving you the reliability and scalability of multiple servers at a lower cost. Hyper-V Network Virtualization
and the Hyper-V Extensible Switch are the foundations of software defined networking in Windows Server
2012 R2. You can isolate network traffic from different business units or customers on a shared
infrastructure and not be required to use VLANs.
New to Windows Server 2012 R2 is Storage Quality of Service (QoS), which allows you to restrict disk
throughput for overactive or disruptive virtual machines and can be configured dynamically while the
virtual machine is running. Providers can build a multi-tenant environment using Hyper-V in Windows
Server 2012 R2 by serving multiple clients in a more insulated fashion. Windows Server 2012 R2 simplifies
aggregation of resource use data through resource metering, which tracks important performance
indicators such as average CPU used by a virtual machine in megahertz and the average physical memory
used by a virtual machine over a period of time.
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Windows Server 2012 R2 includes the Hyper-V Extensible Switch, which provides programmatically
managed and extensible capabilities to connect virtual machines to the physical network. Windows Server
2012 R2 includes a multi-tenant virtual network gateway for cross-premises connectivity.
Server Management and Automation
With Windows Server 2012 R2, IT professionals can automate and manage their growing data center
ecosystem through an integrated platform. New APIs provide support for recent standards and add new
Windows PowerShell commands (cmdlets) that make managing multiple servers and devices simpler and
more cost-effective. With Windows Server 2012 R2, you get Server Manager to enable provisioning of
server and offline virtual hard disks from your desktop without physical access or Remote Desktop
Windows Server 2012 R2 increases business agility through Windows PowerShell 4.0, which helps IT pros
manage server roles, quickly automate management tasks, and monitor scripts more efficiently. Using the
built-in integrated scripting environment, PowerShell scripts can be written more quickly and intuitively.
Other new management capabilities, such as desired state configuration, help to deploy resources in a
repeatable and standardized manner. Desired state configuration helps standardize deployments by
ensuring that components of the data center have the right configuration.
System Center 2012 R2
Infrastructure Provisioning
Infrastructure provisioning enables the allocation of physical, virtual, and cloud infrastructure to meet
requirements such as workload scale and performance, enterprise-class multi-tenancy for hybrid
environments, and chargeback. With System Center 2012 R2, custom or standardized infrastructure can be
provisioned for on-premises, service provider, or Windows Azure environments.
System Center 2012 R2 delivers world-class management for Windows Server environments by
supporting the scale and performance delivered by Windows Server 2012 R2. Microsoft will deliver System
Center 2012 R2 simultaneously with Windows Server 2012 R2 so that infrastructure deployments can take
maximum advantage of native platform capabilities 8. Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) is a feature of
System Center 2012 R2 that helps enable virtualization-management scale. For maximum flexibility and
efficiency, VMM enables storage management across a variety of storage approaches across file and block
storage. New enhancements to System Center 2012 R2 VMM include new functionality for site-to-site
gateways for Hyper-V network virtualization using Microsoft software. This functionality supports higher
capacity and better reliability for hosts of virtualized networks, and enables the majority of tenant
In System Center 2012 R2, VMM supports at-scale management of Windows Server 2012 File and Storage
Services, providing availability, resiliency, and performance normally expected from high-end hardware10.
Windows Server R2 offers the ability to automatically upgrade Hyper-V clusters to reduce the time, effort,
and downtime required to upgrade from Windows Server 2012 to Windows Server 2012 R2.
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As cloud computing adoption increases, large enterprises are looking to increase the scale and efficiency
of their data center infrastructure while delivering infrastructure services in a secure, isolated manner.
With System Center 2012 R2, flexible workload mobility is enabled in hybrid cloud environments through
multi-tenant edge gateways. Additionally, System Center 2012 R2 enables chargeback for multi-tenant
environments with detailed infrastructure metering and business and operational analytics.
With System Center 2012 R2, enterprise IT organizations can provision and manage their data center
infrastructure using a single management toolset. System Center R2 provides a unified tool to provision
and manage virtual machines into on-premises and Windows Azure environments. The App Controller
feature enables migration of on-premises Hyper-V virtual machines into Windows Azure virtual machines.
At-scale provisioning and management of Windows Azure virtual machines and Windows Azure storage
can be conducted in an automated manner using the Orchestrator component of System Center 2012
Infrastructure Monitoring
System Center 2012 R2 provides comprehensive monitoring of physical, virtual, and cloud data center
infrastructure, which helps ensure reliable performance and availability to deliver on business and
operational SLAs. Many organizations have a mix of both Windows Server and non-Windows Server
platforms, which requires a tool that can help manage infrastructure in a diverse environment. System
Center 2012 R2’s Operations Manager component produces a dashboard view of performance metrics
across storage, network, and compute on a variety of resources such as load balancers, Internet
Information Services pools, storage logical unit numbers (LUN), hosts, storage pools, files servers, virtual
machines, SMM servers, and host clusters.
Automation and Self-Service
System Center 2012 R2 empowers application owners with the agility they expect while providing IT pros
with the tools needed to drive automation and control. IT needs centralized control over delivering
infrastructure, while providing application owners the ability to define infrastructure requirements. System
Center 2012 R2’s VMM component provides service templates, which enables application owners to work
with IT to define standard application blueprints.
With the App Controller component of System Center 2012 R2, IT has the visibility and control it needs
across on-premises, service provider, and Windows Azure infrastructure. Additionally, App Controller
enables easy virtual machine and workload portability between Windows Server and Windows Azure
without a need for format conversion.
For additional flexibility required for transient usage patterns, System Center 2012 R2 enables application
owners to work with their infrastructure counterparts to deploy automated workflows that would trigger
additional capacity provisioning. Microsoft provides and supports automation toolsets including
Orchestrator and PowerShell.
Application Performance Monitoring
Deep application insight into application health is essential with the current fast pace of application cycles
and real-time collaboration between application developers and IT staff. With System Center 2012 R2’s
Operations Manager, IT has visibility into performance and availability metrics from multiple perspectives,
such as server-side monitoring, end-user experience, and synthetic transaction monitoring. Additionally,
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operations staff can dig into application stack traces to identify problematic lines of code. System Center
2012 R2 has new Java application performance monitoring capabilities, which enables support for Java
Tomcat application servers and multiple Java web services frameworks. By integrating with Microsoft
Visual Studio, Operations Manager enables productive development and operations collaboration helping
ensure applications are up to date and delivered to a rapid application lifecycle.
IT Service Management
IT services need to be defined and consumed in a centralized manner in order for IT to maintain oversight
and governance into core data center processes and systems. At the same time, IT departments must
balance control with flexibility to allow for self-service consumption by business users and application
With the Service Manager component of System Center, users and application owners can request IT
services including private cloud capacity through a service catalog using the Cloud Service Process Pack.
System Center 2012 R2 enables SharePoint 2013 support for the service catalog portal. Through
integration with VVM and Operations Manager, Service Manager delivers in-box metering and price
sheets for virtual machines and private cloud, which incentivizes better consumption behaviors.
Additionally, operational SLA trends can be analyzed through self-service reporting.
Windows Azure Pack
The Windows Azure Pack for Windows Server provides a solution for enterprises to deliver Windows
Azure technologies into the private cloud, facilitating a rich, self-service, multi-tenant cloud with Windows
Azure-consistent experiences and services and a single pane of glass from which to manage them. The
Windows Azure Pack is a collection of Windows Azure technologies available to Microsoft customers at
no additional cost. Windows Azure Pack’s Management Portal provides a self-service interface that every
subscriber uses to provision and manage services, such as web sites and virtual machines. Service
Management API is a Rest API that underlies the management portal and enables automation. The Service
Management API can be called by other management portals and automation services such as Parallels.
Enterprises want flexibility and agility around cloud choice whether for financial, business, or compliance
reasons, in order to meet business needs. Enterprises are looking to decrease costs by simplifying
operations through automated billing and more effectively utilizing existing hardware assets, while
providing flexibility to tenants in how they choose to use capacity. At the same time, they want to be able
to integrate with their existing system and implement a multi-tenant cloud that is as easy for users as
Windows Azure.
Core to delivering on the cloud operating system promise is enabling parity of application owner
experiences regardless of where the underlying infrastructure may reside: on-premises, in a hosted
environment, or on Windows Azure. Organizations want a uniform self-service and management
experience for tenant users that allow them to consume the infrastructure needed by their application
services for both Windows Azure and Windows Server environments. Organizations and service providers
are already running a sophisticated operating system, virtualization, and management platform with
Windows Server with System Center on their own compute, storage, and network infrastructure in their
data centers.
The Microsoft cloud operating system vision drives consistency across Windows Azure, enterprise, and
service provider environments. The Windows Azure Pack takes Windows Azure technology developed for
Microsoft’s data centers and repurposes it to provide the same capabilities running on System Center and
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Windows Server on customers’ infrastructure. With Windows Azure Pack, the technology to develop and
test highly distributed cloud services can be delivered to enterprises as part of the technology found in
Windows Server and System Center12.
Windows Azure Pack provides consistency in portal, API, and select services across Microsoft and
Enterprise. This allows IT departments to deliver:
 Enterprise-friendly, frictionless cloud
 Multi-tenant Infrastructure as a ervivce based on Windows Azure
 Usage billing
 Automation
 Improved hardware utilization
 Tenant choice
 Offer management
 Portal integration and branding
Figure 4: Windows Azure technology in enterprise and service provider data centers
With Windows Azure Pack, the enterprise can have Azure technology running in its data center. It is
important to note that these services are deployed on existing infrastructure, meaning that organizations
can utilize what they already own. The management portal replicates the Windows Azure Developer portal
experience in Windows Azure with a subset of the services available in full Windows Azure. All the
capabilities available in the management portal can be accessed programmatically through the Service
Management API. This allows the portal to be completely replaced, for example, if an enterprise has their
own portal which they want to integrate the Azure services into.
“Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview.” 2013.
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By bringing the Windows Azure Service Management Portal experience and API to Windows Server,
Microsoft is helping IT departments to administer web sites and virtual machine services on Windows
Server while offering a self-service user experience to provision and manage their websites and virtual
machines. The portal experiences are customizable and extensible because the management portal is built
on a REST-based Service Management API13.
Impact of Differences to Private Cloud Offering
With the release of Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, and Windows Azure Pack, IT
departments can continue to enable the rich self-service, transparent accounting, and guaranteed uptime
expected from a cloud. Through private cloud, enterprises have the added benefits of privacy and security
of private machines.
Additionally, enterprises benefit from easy mobility of applications from developer environments to
servers to hyper-V virtual systems to Private Cloud to Windows Azure through one solution to allow for
instantiation of servers and services in the appropriate realm for business and IT needs14.
The changes to Windows Server 2012 R2 include many small changes in key areas, which together make
the server operating system an even more robust and scalable system. One of the largest updates include
the improvements to Hyper-V, which not only close the gap between Microsoft and VMWare, they leave
VMWare behind, according to Mike Brown of ServerWatch 15. The updates to Hyper-V allows you to:
Share virtual hard disk format files (VHDX) as storage for clustered applications
Allow guest operating systems to connect to the VHDX without needing the storage method to
be defined
Specify minimum and maximum I/O load for each virtual hard disk using storage QoS
Export a virtual machine while it is still running
Detect problems in cluster nodes using failover clustering, and automatically start other nodes in
the cluster to provide service
Monitor unmanaged storage used by clustered virtual machines
These updates provide enormous benefit and utility to enterprises that leverage Windows Server 2012 R2
and System Center 2012 R2 in the private cloud. The breadth of updates and new offerings provide
administrators greater control and better tools for managing the enterprise networks, and facilitates
greater productivity and convenience for users.
“Windows Azure Pack for Windows Server.” 7 Oct. 2013.
“Unified management for the Cloud OS System Center 2012 R2.” 7 Oct. 2013
“Windows Server 2012 R2: It's the Little Things that Count” July 23, 2013.
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Private Cloud Fast Track
Reference Architecture
The Microsoft Private Cloud Fast Track Program is a joint effort between Microsoft and its hardware
partners to help organizations decrease the time, complexity, and risk of implementing private clouds. The
benefits of the Microsoft Private Cloud Fast Track Program include faster deployment, reduced risk, and
lower cost of deployment. Private Cloud Fast track Reference architecture provides a high level of preintegration with reduced risk and deployment time. The End to End Deployment Guide provides step by
step instructions and configuration details that enable consistency in multiple deployments. Microsoft and
its partners become trusted advisors for customers deploying new private cloud solutions. Customers can
trust that the validation process will greatly simplify the deployment process and help mitigate any issues
that arise.
Resiliency is a key tenet of Microsoft Private Cloud Fast Track solutions, which includes the following
Disaster recovery with Hyper-V
Asynchronous replication with Hyper-V Replica
Synchronous replication using cluster shared volume (CSV) 2.0 integration with storage arrays
Application and service failover for:
o Non-Cluster Aware Apps: Hyper-V App Monitoring
o Virtual machine guest cluster: iSCSI, Fibre Channel
o Virtual machine guest teaming of SR-IOV NICs
I/O redundancy using:
o Network Load Balancing and Failover via Windows NIC Teaming
o Storage Multi-Path IO (MPIO)
o Multi-Channel SMB
High availability during:
o Planned maintenance with Live Migration
o Unplanned maintenance or incidents with failover clustering
Hardware fault monitoring with Windows Hardware Error Architecture (WHEA)/RAS
The Fast Track program is designed with key architectural principles in mind. Pooled resources allow
aggregation of resources that can then be parsed for better efficiency. The design is elastic, allowing for
changes in the availability of applications and services based on need. A consistent performance
experience is delivered through high availability and predictability. The multi-tenancy feature allows for
the separation of departments and customer-enabling capabilities, such as separate chargebacks and
resources for self-service and management. Additionally, the architecture is partner extensible.
The Fast Track Reference Architecture provides flexibility through three design patterns: continuous
availability over SMB storage, converged infrastructure, and non-converged infrastructure. With the first
design pattern, continuous availability over SMB storage, Hyper-V clusters consume storage from scaleout file server clusters or SMB 3.0-enabled storage devices. This design pattern requires network
infrastructure between the Hyper-V servers and file servers and is optimal for low cost “just a bunch of
disks” (JBOD) strategy enabled by networking capabilities of SMB Multichannel and remote direct memory
access. The second design pattern is converged infrastructure and provides cost savings and operational
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efficiency of a single common Ethernet network, compared to multiple physical networks and host bus
adapters (HBA) for storage traffic. Converged infrastructure is appropriate for large or recent investment
in blade servers with converged-network and storage-network infrastructure. This design patter is optimal
for leveraging a converged-network architecture. With the third design pattern, non-converged
infrastructure, there is an emphasis on minimizing risk and cost of new hardware and designs since this
design can reuse existing hardware. For example, this design is ideal for large or recent investment in
server and blade hardware with HBAs and is optimal for leveraging an existing storage area network
(SAN) investment.
The Fast Track validation process is comprised of four steps:
Formulate solution: choose and formulate solution based on Fast Track architecture and
management guides.
Build checklist: review your Fast Track validation checklist for chosen hardware configuration and
program compliance.
Install solution: build the system using physical hardware and Microsoft’s software guides and
review of your failover cluster validation wizard reports for any potential issues.
Validation: perform and evaluate the functional and stress tests using an in-person or remote
In Fast Track implementations, it is mandatory that each architecture solution pass several validation
requirements including Windows hardware certification, failover-clustering validation, clustered RAID
controller validation (if a third-party clustered RAID controller is used), and other pre-defined validation
criteria. The validation criteria includes mandatory, recommended, and optional criteria.
Mandatory requirements are necessary for passing the Microsoft validation. The following are a sample of
mandatory criteria:
 Fast Track infrastructures will provide a minimum of two hosts configured as a failover cluster,
with the Hyper-V role enabled to support fabric management operations
 The rack or blade-chassis design must provide redundant power connectivity
 Support for virtual machine mobility
 Support for Hyper-V live migration
 Support for storage migration
 All features must work with Live Migration
Recommended requirements are standard best practices that are strongly recommended, yet are not
required for passing the Microsoft validation. The following are a sample of recommended criteria:
 BitLocker Encrypted Cluster Storage. BitLocker-encrypted CSV for deployments that lack strong
physical security and access controls to servers.
 Network isolation. For the private cloud scenario, the recommendation is to use one or more
external networks per virtual machine, and segregate the networks with VLANs or network
virtualization as appropriate.
 If the chosen server hardware supports an out-of-band management adapter, establish a
dedicated LAN for these adapters.
 Standardized virtual machine deployments. The use of VMM service templates is recommended.
 Windows Azure Pack deployment.
Optional requirements are voluntary considerations that can be implemented in the solution at the
discretion of each partner. Sample optional criteria include the following:
 Hyper-V application monitoring
 Virtual machine failover prioritization
 Virtual machine affinity (and anti-affinity) rules
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Use of third-party Hyper-V Virtual Switch extensions
Resource metering
Fibre Channel disks
Solid-state hard drives
The system architecture of the host server refers to the general category of the server hardware including
rack mounted servers, blade servers, and large symmetric multiprocessor servers. The host server must
provide the required capacity in terms of processors, RAM, storage, and network capacity. When selecting
system architectures, it is important to consider that each Hyper-V host will contain multiple guest
operating systems with multiple workloads. The rack or blade chassis design should provide multiple
power distribution unit capability for racks, or multiple hot-swappable power supplies for the blade
Server and blade design recommendations:
 2 to 12 socket server with a maximum of 64 logical processors enabled
 64-bit CPU with virtualization technology support, data execution prevention, and second level
address translation
 64 gigabytes (GB) RAM minimum
 Min 40 GB local RAID 1 or 10 hard-disk space for the operating system partition or an equivalent
boot from a SAN design
Server and blade storage connectivity recommendations:
 Internal serial advanced technology attachment (SATA) or serial attached storage (SAS) controller
for direct attached storage unless design is 100 percent SAN-based including boot from SAN for
the host operating system
 If you are using a Fibre Channel SAN, two or more 4 to 8 gigabit fibre channel HBAs
 If you are using iSCSI, two or more 1 Gb or 10 Gb network adapters or HBAs
 If you are using Fibre Channel over Ethernet two or more 10 Gb converged network adapters
Server and blade high availability and redundancy recommendations:
 If the solution uses rack mounted servers or blade servers, each server should have redundant
power supplies and fans.
 If the solution utilizes a Hyper-V host system partition that uses direct attached storage, each
server should provide SAS or SATA RAID capability for the system partition.
Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V
The virtualization in Fast Track is provided at multiple layers, including storage, network, and server.
Resource pooling is supported at all three layers through virtualization. Storage virtualization is the
separation of logical storage from physical storage so that it can be accessed without regard to physical
Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V supports running on a host system that has up to 320 logical
processors on hardware and four terabytes (TB) of physical memory, which helps to encourage
compatibility with the largest scale-up server systems. Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V lets you
configure a virtual machine with up to 64 virtual processors and up to 1 TB of memory. The result is the
ability to support very large workload scenarios. Additionally, Hyper-V now supports running up to 8,000
virtual machines on a 64-node failover cluster. Enabling Hyper-V to use SMB file shares for virtual storage
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provides administrators a new option to provision devices. SMB 3.0 supports CSV version 2, is less
expensive to deploy, and provides performance capabilities and features that rivals those with Fibre
Channel SANs. Hyper-V over SMB 3.0 supports flexible configurations that facilitate different levels of
capabilities and availability, including single-node, dual-node, and multi-node file-server modes16.
The storage design is an important element of private cloud architecture because of its impact on overall
cost, performance, and agility. The Fast Track Reference Architecture program outlines three design
patterns for storage architecture: continuous availability over SMB, non-converged infrastructure, and
converged infrastructure.
The continuous availability over SMB storage pattern supports Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V
clustered deployments where continuous availability and transparent failover are delivered over a scaleout file server infrastructure and SMB shares using a converged hardware configuration and native
Windows Server 2012 R2 operating system capabilities. The continuous availability over SMB storage
pattern is expected to have three variations: SMB Direct using shared serial attached SCSI (SAS) and
storage spaces, SMB Direct using SAN, and SMB 3.0-enabled storage. SMB Direct using shared SAS and
storage spaced combines scale-out file cluster infrastructure with SMB Direct to provide back-end storage
that has similar characteristics to traditional SAN infrastructures. SMB Direct using SAN provides advanced
storage capabilities that are found in SAN infrastructures and delivers benefits in terms of capability and
manageability. The third variation uses SMB 3.0-enabled storage devices instead of scale-out file server
clusters and SMB Direct to provide basic storage capabilities. This option is an affordable option for
Hyper-V workloads.
Critical performance factors for hard disks are the interface architecture (for example, U320 SCSI, SAS, or
SATA), the rotational speed of the drive (7,200, 10,000, or 15,000 RPM), and the average latency in
milliseconds. The RAID type should deliver high availability and high performance even in the event of
disk failures and RAID parity rebuilds. The general recommendation for virtual machine volumes is RAID
10 (0+1) or a proprietary hybrid RAID type. Multipathing should be used in all cases.
Cluster Shared Volumes
New CSV capabilities in Windows Server 2012 R2 include optimized CSV placement policies, CSV cache
allocation, the ability to diagnose CSV, and CSV interoperability.
 Optimized CSV placement policies: in Windows Server 2012 R2, CSV ownership is evenly
distributed across the failover cluster nodes based on the number of CSVs that each node owns.
 CSV resiliency: to increase CSV resiliency, there are multiple service instances per failover cluster
node, such as default instances that handle incoming traffic from SMB. New to Windows Server
2012 R2 is CSV health monitoring of the server service.
 CSV cache allocation: up to 80 percent of total physical memory can be allocated to the CSV
cache in Windows Server 2012 R2 compared to 20 percent in Windows Server 2012.
 CSV diagnosing the state of a CSV can be viewed on a per-node basis in Windows Server 2012 R2.
With Windows PowerShell you can view the state information and the redirection reason.
 CSV interoperability: CSV functionality has been enhanced in Windows Server 2012 R2 to include
Resilient File System, deduplication, parity storage spaces, tiered storage spaces, and storage
spaces write-back caching.
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Storage Automation
Enabling rapid provisioning and deprovisioning of virtual machines on a large scale requires tight
integration with the storage architectures and robust automation. Through SAN integration using the
Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S), Virtual Machine Manager enables end-to-end
automation of provisioning a new SCV LUN and adding it to a host cluster. With SMI-S, a common set of
tools can be utilized across heterogeneous storage solutions.
System Center 2012 R2
The following are the primary management scenarios addressed in Fast Track, although the management
layer can provide many more capabilities:
 Fabric management
 Fabric provisioning
 Virtual machine provisioning and de-provisioning
 IT service provisioning (including platform and application provisioning)
 Fabric and IT service maintenance
 Fabric and IT service monitoring
 Resource optimization
 Service management
 Reporting (used by chargeback, capacity, service management, health, and performance)
 Backup and disaster recovery
 Security
The act of pooling multiple disparate computing resources together and being able to sub-divide,
allocate, and manage them as a single fabric is fabric management. Hardware integration refers to the
management system being able to perform deployment or operational tasks directly against the
underlying physical infrastructure such as storage arrays, network devices, or servers. In Virtual Machine
Manager, remote storage supported on storage arrays can be classified and provisioned through the
Virtual Machine Manager console. Virtual Machine Manager automates the assignment of storage to a
Hyper-V host or Hyper-V host cluster, and tracks the storage.
Fabric Logic Architecture
The diagram below illustrates the management of logical architecture if using a dedicated two-node
management cluster (four-node management is recommended). Note that the Windows Server and
System Center versions in the diagram have not been updated to reflect 2012 R2, but the architecture is
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the same:
Node 1
Node 2
Guest Clustering
Fabric Management SQL Instances:
System Center
Virtual Machine Manager 2012 SP1
4 CPU, 8 GB RAM minimum
System Center
Virtual Machine Manager 2012 SP1
4 CPU, 8 GB RAM minimum
Service Manager DB
Service Manager DW
Microsoft SQL Server 2012 SP1
Failover Cluster Node 1
Microsoft SQL Server 2012 SP1
Failover Cluster Node 2
8 CPU, 16 GB RAM minimum
8 CPU, 16 GB RAM minimum
Microsoft SQL Server 2012 SP1
Failover Cluster Node 3 (Optional)
Microsoft SQL Server 2012 SP1
Failover Cluster Node 4 (Optional)
8 CPU, 16 GB RAM minimum
8 CPU, 16 GB RAM minimum
Virtual SQL Cluster
Service Manager AS
Operations Manager DB
Operations Manager DW
Virtual Machine Manager DB
Native Application HA
System Center 2012 SP1 Operations Manager
Management Servers (1 and 3)
8 CPU, 16 GB RAM minimum
System Center 2012 SP1 Orchestrator
Management and Action Server
4 CPU, 8 GB RAM minimum
System Center Shared DB
System Center 2012 SP1 Operations Manager
Supplemental Management Servers (2 and 4)
8 CPU, 16 GB RAM minimum
SharePoint Foundation DB
App Controller DB
Orchestrator DB
WSUS DB (Optional)
System Center 2012 SP1 Orchestrator
Supplemental Action Server
4 CPU, 8 GB RAM minimum
Host Clustering
System Center 2012 SP1 Service Manager
Management Server
System Center 2012 SP1 Service Manager
Supplemental Management Servers
4 CPU, 16 GB RAM minimum
4 CPU, 16 GB RAM minimum
System Center 2012 SP1
App Controller
System Center 2012 SP1 Service Manager
Data Warehouse
4 CPU, 8 GB RAM minimum
Active Directory, DNS, DHCP
outside the FM Cluster)
8 CPU, 16 GB RAM minimum
System Center 2012 SP1 Service Manager
(Optional) Windows
Deployment Server, WSUS
8 CPU, 16 GB RAM minimum
2 CPU, 4 GB RAM minimum
System Center 2012 SP1 Operations Manager
Reporting Server
8 CPU, 32 GB RAM minimum
Host Cluster
Shared Storage
(Fibre Channel or iSCSI)
This management architecture contains of a minimum of two physical nodes in a failover cluster with
shared storage and redundant network connections. It provides a highly available platform for
management systems. With management systems with additional highly available options, the most
effective highly available option will be used.
The management systems include:
 Two SQL Servers in a guest cluster configuration
 Two System Center 2012 R2 - Virtual Machine Manager servers in a guest cluster configuration
 Two System Center 2012 R2 - Operations Manager management servers using the built-in failover
and redundancy features (up to four management servers may be required for agent-managed
monitoring of up to 8,000 virtual machines)
 One System Center 2012 R2 - Operations Manager reporting server
 Two System Center 2012 R2 - Orchestrator servers using the built-in failover and redundancy
 Two System Center 2012 R2 - Service Manager management servers
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One System Center 2012 R2 - Service Manager data warehouse
One System Center 2012 R2 - Service Manager self-service portal
One System Center 2012 R2 - App Controller server
One deployment server providing Windows Deployment Services and Windows Server Update
Services (optional)
Why Fast Track?
The Fast Track program is a joint effort between Microsoft and its hardware partners, designed to deliver
pre-configured cloud solutions. The following are the benefits of choosing the Fast Track:
Increased speed to deployment with the Fast Track reference architecture, which helps enterprises
achieve time-to-value quicker.
Decreased learning curve with a provided end-to-end deployment guide which includes thorough
do-it-yourself steps.
Reduced risk by deploying a validated Microsoft design and a rich software portfolio.
Integrated, end-to-end solution comprised of compute, networking, and storage options.
Flexibility and choice in the selection of innovative partner solutions with ready-to-deploy options
available, which help you to choose the scale and performance that your enterprise needs.
The Microsoft Private Cloud Fast Track program reduces private cloud risk and complexity through a
validated, pre-configured solution. The benefits of implementing a private cloud solution using Fast Track
include faster deployment and decreased complexity with pre-configured, partner-led solutions. The
program provides flexibility of solution and customer choice across hardware vendors’ technologies, while
using the updated capabilities of the Windows Server 2012 R2 operating system, Hyper-V technology,
Microsoft System Center 2012 R2, and Windows Azure Pack. The result is out-of-the-box offerings with
reduced risk and greater confidence that leverages the building blocks of a private cloud infrastructure as
a service offering.
With Windows Server 2012 R2, it is now easier than ever for organizations to take advantage of the cost
savings of virtualization and make the optimum use of server hardware investments by consolidating
multiple server roles as separate virtual machines. This technology improves virtualization density and
makes optimal use of server hardware investments by consolidating multiple server roles as separate
virtual machines. These virtual machines use Hyper-V to efficiently run multiple operating systems such as
Microsoft Windows, Linux, and others in parallel, on a single server. Hyper-V also extends virtualization
capabilities with more features, greater scalability, and built-in reliability mechanisms.
Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 builds on the core capability provided by Windows Server 2012 R2. It
delivers a flexible, cost-effective private cloud infrastructure in a self-service model, while using existing
data center hardware and software investments. System Center 2012 R2 helps facilitate agility and control
for enterprises over infrastructure, automation and self-service, monitoring, and IT service management.
Windows Azure Pack for Windows Server extends the functionality of Windows Server 2012 R2 by
providing a solution that enables a single pane of glass for enterprises to deliver Windows Azure
technologies into the private cloud. This helps facilitate a rich, self-service, multi-tenant cloud with
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Windows Azure consistent experiences and services. The Windows Azure Pack is a collection of Windows
Azure technologies available to Microsoft customers at no additional cost.
All of these offerings make the Microsoft Private Cloud Fast Track program a powerful, consolidated
solution for enterprises looking to deploy to or upgrade their private cloud. To find out more about the
Fast Track program, visit
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