After Day 1 of BUILD being so momentous, I was honestly expecting a letdown on Day 2. What could possibly compete with the wealth of exciting information we got about Windows 8? I’m happy to report that Day 2 was packed with oodles of great announcements and demos about the back end (server, cloud) and developer libraries and tooling.
Moreover, the “front-end” coverage on Day 1 and the “back end” coverage on Day 2 are linked through a comprehensive strategy of “connected devices and continuous services”. This phrase, much easier for all audiences to parse and understand, is a big improvement over “software + services” or “platform as a service”. It beautifully reflects the device/HTML5 revolution that is happening on the front end and the cloud computing revolution on the back end. Rarely have I seen this much collaboration and shared vision between the teams at Microsoft. It’s really refreshing!
There was a whole lot shared on Day 2, and once again it will take some time to really absorb it all. For now, I’m going to focus on Windows Server 8 and cover the rest in additional posts.
Windows Server 8
Just as we have a new client OS on the horizon with Windows 8, a new version of Windows Server is in the works as well: Windows Server 8. If Windows Server 8 is about one thing, that thing is “private cloud”: it has extremely advanced virtualization features such as the ability to relocate running VMs, and the management is implemented in an extremely user-friendly way. Here are the highlights on Windows Server 8:
• Overhauled User Interfaces. Windows Server 8 has some nice management interfaces that are friendly and approachable.
• IIS. IIS has application platform improvements. I haven't learned the specific details yet.
• HA. You can build small-size clusters that have high availability.
• Private Cloud. Windows Server 8 is a virtualization platform, allowing you to create a private cloud on top of your existing on-premise infrastructure.
• Live Migration. Relocate a VM’s hard disk storage to another location, even a remote location, while the VM is running.
• Multi-tenancy. Windows Server 8 deeply understands multi-tenancy, allowing you fine control over how you provision compute, storage, and network resources for application workloads.
• Storage Spaces. This feature allows you to manage multiple drives connected by Serial Attached SCSI (SAS). For example, you could form a single storage pool from a dozen hard drives, then partition that into multiple virtual drives. This was demonstrated to be easy to manage (“You don’t need a PhD in storage to be able to use it”).
• Parallel Networking. Windows Server 8 can leverage multiple NICs simultaneously to strongly boost throughput and to provide fault tolerance.
As you can see, Windows Server 8 is a real tiger! --and I’ve only scratched the surface. Check out this InfoWorld article for a more detailed overview and get a view of the new UI from this PCMag.com article. I also really encourage you to watch the Day 2 Keynote from the BUILD site. MSDN subscribers can download a developer preview of Windows Server 8 right now.
With Windows 8 and Windows Server 8, Microsoft has pushed the envelope on what an operating system should do and how it should do it, in a ground-breaking way. Together with cloud services (Windows Live, Windows Azure, Office 365), they make the vision of “connected devices, continuous services” more than just a neat idea: they make it reality.