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Application Readiness for the Microsoft Private Cloud

By: Ravi Mazumdar

In my last post, I wrote about the private cloud, its definition and the importance of application readiness in migrating applications to that platform. For now we will focus on Microsoft’s IaaS based private cloud technology. Built on Windows Server Hyper-V and System Center 2012 that Microsoft released earlier this year, it includes these key components:

  1. Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V: Provides the hypervisor required to the host virtual machines.
  2. System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM): The core management piece of the private cloud, System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager includes the deployment and management framework for virtual machines and other resources on the hypervisor.
  3. Server App-V: Provides the application virtualization engine for server applications and allows server applications to run inside a bubble in the private cloud.

The key to successful deployment and management of a server application to the private cloud involves the following:

  1. Identifying and rationalizing the application landscape: It is important to understand the application landscape to be virtualized whether they are desktop applications or server applications. In both cases there may be instances where an application has multiple versions. There is little point in spending time in virtualizing version 1.0 when version 5.0 is available. Use of advanced software asset management tools will help here.
  2. Assessing the application for Server App-V compatibility: Many 3rd party server applications are provided to enterprises as installable products in the form of MSI files that can be scanned and compatibility assessment done against Server App-V rules and guidelines. The process to manually do this is extremely complex and error prone, therefore the use of automated tools is highly recommended.
  3. Converting the suitable applications to the Server App-V format: Similar to desktop App-V, Microsoft provides a tool called the Server App-V Sequencer to package the installable package (MSI) into a Server App-V package. This tool is typically run on a virtual machine running on SCVMM where it monitors the installation to capture the information and convert it into a Server App-V package. While this is a great help in the application virtualization process, streamlining the steps between assessment and conversion and then automating some of them will increase efficiency.
  4. Deploying virtualized application to SCVMM: In order for the application to be available to users, it must first be published as a virtualized package to SCVMM. While the sequencer does not allow you to do this, SCVMM provides a number of tools in the form of PowerShell scripts as well as the SCVMM UI that allows you to import a package into its library, create a service template, and deploy it as a service. Again, the process can be made more efficient using tools that provide a simple user interface and automate part of the process.

In conclusion, it is clear that private clouds are here to stay and that they present many benefits as IT transforms the way data centers are managed. Adopting the new wave and taking advantage of the benefits will put you ahead of the curve.

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