Tag: Public Cloud

The Definition of Cloud Computing

Windows Server 2012 R2

The reason for this blog post was a lecture I had at university where lecturer talked about ERP systems (enterprise resource planning) and a question came up from one of the other students about ERP in the cloud and how Cloud Computing is defined. I am not really happy with the answer he gave, because the answer was totally focused on Software as a Service hosted from a service provider and accessible over the internet. Well this is a part of cloud computing but doesn’t not really cover the real definition.

I know I will maybe get a lot of comments on this post, because there is no official definition of “Cloud Computing” and every company maybe thinks different about it, depending on their product range

As someone who has worked in the hosting business and now is working as a consultant for mostly building private or hosted private clouds the definition looks really different. One important statement first. Virtualization is not Cloud Computing, virtualization is a great enhancement for Cloud Computing and is also a important enabler of Cloud computing because without virtualization Cloud Computing could be really hard to do.

I my opinion Cloud Computing is not a technology, Cloud Computing is a concept you can use to provide access to resources. There are three different scenarios in cloud computing.

IaaS PaaS SaaS

Image Source: blogs.technet.com

  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service – IaaS basically allows customers to use compute, storage and networking resources and deploy for example virtual machines with full access to the operating system. (Example: Windows Azure, Amazon,…)
  • Platform-as-a-Service – PaaS provides customers with a platform for their application, for example Windows Server with IIS where customers can deploy their application but don’t have to think about the server itself. (Example: Windows Azure, Webhosting Providers,…)
  • Software-as-a-Service – SaaS allows customer to use just a software without caring about the installation or platform itself. For example hosted mailservers or CRMs (Example: Office365, Microsoft Dynamics Online, Xbox Live, Outlook.com,…)

Well another common mistake is to think cloud is always hosted in the internet. Since Cloud Computing is a concept to deliver services, companies can do this also internally which is mostly known as Private Cloud. The Private Cloud can of course also be IaaS, PaaS or SaaS and could be accessible from the internet, but it could also only be available company internal.

  • Public Cloud – The Public Cloud is maybe the Cloud people think of mostly when they are talking about Cloud Computing. This is mostly shared services hosted from a services provider which is accessible from the internet.
  • Private Cloud – The Private Cloud is a Cloud made for a just one customer or company for example this could be an on premise Cloud hosted in my own datacenter. In some cases the Private Cloud could also be hosted from a services provider.
  • Hybrid Cloud – The Hybrid Cloud model will be the model a lot of companies will go for, or already did even without knowing about it. The Hybrid Cloud is a scenario where I have a Private Cloud hosted on premise in my datacenter but I also extend my Cloud to the Public Cloud by connecting cloud services such as Windows Azure or Office 365 to my Private Cloud.

I already wrote about 500 words, but I still didn’t not really answers the question what Cloud Computing is, so we going to have a look at Wikipedia:

Cloud computing – correctly: a Computing Cloud – is a colloquial expression used to describe a variety of different computing concepts that involve a large number of computers that are connected through a real-time communication network (typically the Internet). Cloud Computing is a jargon term without a commonly accepted non-ambiguous scientific or technical definition. In science Cloud computing is a synonym for distributed computing over a network and means the ability to run a program on many connected computers at the same time. The popularity of the term Cloud computing can be attributed to its use in marketing to sell hosted services in the sense of Application Service Provisioning that run Client server software on a remote location.

So with this definition there are five common properties every Cloud has, doesn’t matter if it’s IaaS, PaaS or SaaS based or hosted in the Private or Public Cloud.

  • Elastic and Scalable – I think this is one of the overall parts of a cloud. It’s important to be very flexible to get new resources if your business grows over time or has some special peaks where you need more resources. Resources could be more compute power, more virtual machines, more users, or more mailboxes.
  • Pooled Compute Resources – From a cloud provider perspective I want to pool my compute, storage and network resources and share them for different customers or services.
  • Provides Self-Service Provisioning – To request new resources (virtual machines, Mailboxes or whatever) over a self-service portal which automatically kicks of the specific tasks.
  • Highly Automated Management – Because we want to use Self-Services provisioning and doing this in large scales, it’s important that the environment is highly automated. If you think about a simple example: A new employee starts at your company and you want to create a new mailbox for him, you can create a it over a self-services portal. The creation of the mailbox has to me automated in the background because you don’t want to wait for someone to create the mailbox manually maybe two days later.
  • Usage-Based Chargeback – Trough the pooled resource you want to be able to do chargeback based on consumed resources. Even if you do another billing system you still want to know how much resources customers have used. This could be how many mailboxes did I use last month, how many minutes my virtual machines was running this month, or much disk space did I use.

I think this 5 things do cover the properties of Cloud Computing in basically all the common scenarios. This there are a lot of things I did not cover in my blog post but it should help people which are new to cloud computing help to understand the different scenarios.

Customize System Center App Controller Portal

System Center Logo

System Center App Controller offers you a web based Self-Service portal for managing Virtual Machines and Services in the Private Cloud and Public Cloud. Now if you want to work with System Center App Controller in your company you may also want to customize the self-service portal by changing the logos. Now what you can do is replace the logos by your self created logos.

App Controller

Now on the System Center App Controller server you can find the two files in the following folder:

C:\Program Files\Microsoft System Center 2012\App Controller\wwwroot

  • SC2012_WebHeaderLeft_AC.png (213×38)
  • SC2012_WebHeaderRight_AC.png (108×16)

Before I replace this two pictures I would create a backup of the existing logos. You can simply replace the pictures with a picture with the same size and a transparent background.



System Center 2012 App Controller connecting to Windows Azure

System Center Logo

Windows Azure Logo

Recently I have worked with the latest release of Windows Azure and the second Community Technical Preview of System Center 2012 SP1 App Controller. App Controller provides a common self-service experience that can help you easily configure, deploy, and manage virtual machines and services across private and public clouds. And you can get more information about System Center App Controller on Microsoft TechNet.

Now in this blog post I will show you how you can connect your System Center App Controller to Windows Azure. For this I used Windows Server 2012, System Center 2012 SP1 CTP2 of App Controller and Virtual Machine Manager and I also used the latest preview version of Windows Azure. This post also works for the RTM products of System Center 2012, Windows Server 2008 R2, but the screenshots look maybe a little different.

I used:

  • System Center 2012 SP1 CTP2 – App Controller
  • System Center 2012 SP1 CTP2 – Virtual Machine Manager
  • Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2012
  • Windows Azure Preview

It also works for:

  • System Center 2012 – App Controller
  • System Center 2012 – Virtual Machine Manager
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 SP1
  • Windows Azure

Now here is how you do it:

  1. Setup a Server for System Center App Controller
  2. Create a Windows Azure subscription if you don’t have one already
  3. Install System Center App Controller
  4. Export the certificate from your App Controller Server
  5. Import the certificate on your Azure account
  6. Connect Windows Azure in System Center App Controller

First you have to install System Center App Controller on a machine. If you install the 2012 RTM of App Controller this is just wizard and the installer will configure all IIS requirements for you. If you install System Center 2012 SP1 CTP2 version of App Controller you have to install the IIS requirements by yourself.

This are the features you have to install in the IIS Role.

Name (for use with the Add-WindowsFeature command in PowerShell) Display Name (displayed in the wizard in Server Manager)
NET-Framework-Features .NET Framework 3.5 Features
NET-Framework-Core .NET Framework 3.5 (includes .NET 2.0 and 3.0)
Web-Mgmt-Console IIS Management Console (under Web Server (IIS), Management Tools)
Web-Static-Content Static Content (under Web Server (IIS), Web Server, Common HTTP Features)
Web-Default-Doc Default Document (under Web Server (IIS), Web Server, Common HTTP Features)
Web-Http-Errors HTTP Errors (under Web Server (IIS), Web Server, Common HTTP Features)
Web-Http-Logging HTTP Logging (under Web Server (IIS), Web Server, Health and Diagnostics)
Web-Request-Monitor Request Monitor (under Web Server (IIS), Web Server, Health and Diagnostics)
Web-Http-Tracing Tracing (under Web Server (IIS), Web Server, Health and Diagnostics)
Web-Stat-Compression Static Content Compression (under Web Server (IIS), Web Server, Performance)
Web-Filtering Request Filtering (under Web Server (IIS), Web Server, Security)
Web-Basic-Auth Basic Authentication (under Web Server (IIS), Web Server, Security)
Web-Windows-Auth Windows Authentication (under Web Server (IIS), Web Server, Security)
Web-ISAPI-Filter ISAPI Filters (under Web Server (IIS), Web Server, Application Development)
Web-ISAPI-Ext ISAPI Extensions (under Web Server (IIS), Web Server, Application Development)
Web-Net-Ext .NET Extensibility 3.5 (under Web Server (IIS), Web Server, Application Development)
Web-Asp-Net45 ASP.NET 4.5 (under Web Server (IIS), Web Server, Application Development)


You can use the following PowerShell commands to install all the requirements:

Add-WindowsFeature NET-Framework-Features
Add-WindowsFeature NET-Framework-Core
Add-WindowsFeature Web-Mgmt-Console
Add-WindowsFeature Web-Static-Content
Add-WindowsFeature Web-Default-Doc
Add-WindowsFeature Web-Http-Errors
Add-WindowsFeature Web-Http-Logging
Add-WindowsFeature Web-Request-Monitor
Add-WindowsFeature Web-Http-Tracing
Add-WindowsFeature Web-Stat-Compression
Add-WindowsFeature Web-Filtering
Add-WindowsFeature Web-Basic-Auth
Add-WindowsFeature Web-Windows-Auth
Add-WindowsFeature Web-ISAPI-Filter
Add-WindowsFeature Web-ISAPI-Ext
Add-WindowsFeature Web-Net-Ext
Add-WindowsFeature Web-Asp-Net45

After you have installed you need to export the certificate on the App Controller server to add it to your Windows Azure Management Certificates. You have to export the certificate twice, first as DER encrypted binary (.cer ) which you have to import into Windows Azure and once as Personal Information Exchange (.pfx) which you will need in App Controller to connected to Windows Azure.

Microsoft Cloud for SMB


Last year I did a little research project about Microsoft’s public cloud and how it cloud affect Small and Medium sized businesses. So I created a paper which should help Microsoft partners to decide how they can improve their services and solutions by using the Microsoft public cloud. I the paper I focused on Microsoft Office 365 and Windows Intune. This should be for the partner which do infrastructure solutions like Active Directory, Exchange and PC Management.


You can download this paper from my Windows Live SkyDrive.
The paper includes a lot of text copied from Microsoft documents and websites, and research I did by myself. All the sources should be marked, but if you find anything which is not marked please feel free to contact me.