Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Deployment Video

I’ve been a bit quiet of late, mainly due to the digestion of Microsoft’s PDC 2008 content (what a great idea to provide the content for free after the conference – VMware could take a leaf out of that book). I meant to post this up yesterday as another SAAAP installment but missed the deadline… but what the hell, I’ll tag this post anyway!

One of the more infrastructure oriented PDC sessions was “Under the Hood – Inside the Windows Azure Hosting Environment“. Skip forward to around 43 minutes into the presentation, where Chuck Lenzmeier goes into the deployment model used within the Azure cloud (you can stop watching at around 48 minutes).

Conceptually, this is _exactly_ the deployment model I and ppl like Lance Berc envisage for ESXi. Rather than put that base VHD onto local USB devices ala ESXi, Microsoft PXE boot a Windows PE “maintenance os”, drop a common base image onto the endpoint, dynamically build a personality (offline) as a differencing disk (ie linked clone), drop that down to the endpoint, and then boot straight off the differencing disk VHD (booting directly off VHD’s is a _very_ cool feature of Win7 / Server 2008 R2). I’m glad even Microsoft recognise the massive benefits of this approach – no installation, rapid rollback, etc.

Now ESXi of course has one *massive* advantage over Windows in this scenario – it is weighs in at around the same size as a typical Windows PE build, much smaller than a Hyper-V enabled Server Core build.

And if only VMware would support PXE booting ESXi, you could couple it with Lance’s birth client and midwife or our statelesx, and you don’t even need the ‘maintenance OS’. You get an environment that is almost identical conceptually, but can be deployed much much faster due to the ~150MB or so total size of ESXi (including Windows, Linux and Solaris vmtools iso’s and customised configuration to enable kernel mode options like swap or LVM.EnableResignature within ESXi that would otherwise require a reboot (chicken, meet egg :-)) versus near a GB of Windows PE and Hyper-V with Server Core. Of course I don’t even need to go into the superiority of ESXi over Hyper-V 😉

With Windows Server 2008 R2 earmarked for a 2010 release, it will be sometime before the sweet deployment scenario outlined in that video is available to Microsoft customers (gotta love how Microsoft get the good stuff to themselves first – jeez, what a convenient way to ensure your cloud service is much more efficient than anything your customer could build with your own technology). But by that time they will have a helluva set of best practice deployment knowledge for liquid infrastructure like this, and you can bet aspects of their “fabric controller” will find their way into the System Center management suite.

The liquid compute deployment gauntlet has been thrown VMware, time to step up to the plate.

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