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Microsoft has deep experience with cloud and datacenter operations, supporting more than a billion customers and 20 million businesses that run on Microsoft cloud services. Today, public safety and national security organizations can leverage this experience to help transform their datacenters and embrace the advantages of the cloud.

But taking full advantage of the cloud requires transforming the datacenter. A hybrid model can reduce costs and complexity while enabling more timely IT response to business requirements. The first step in this process: building a software-defined foundation.

“Software defined” means that the infrastructure is controlled by policy-driven software decoupled from the underlying hardware. This allows agencies to manage their resources holistically, with greater flexibility and increased resilience. The big lesson we’re learning from cloud is that to respond rapidly to the demands of the business, we need to move away from a highly customized infrastructure to a standardized, automated infrastructure. With a software-defined datacenter, an organization can manage diverse hardware as a unified resource pool.

In one instance of this, officials in two areas of Afghanistan are virtualizing servers, the combined endeavors marking the first time this has been done in a theater of operations on such a large scale. According to NATO and U.S. sources, it reaped significant rewards for the warfighters by saving space, fuel, energy and money, while improving system uptime and increasing data rates, memory, and processing power.

Virtualization is the foundation of the software-defined datacenter, and Microsoft offers enterprise-grade features that create a flexible and resilient infrastructure fabric, enabling performance that can scale to the largest workloads with 64 virtual processors and 1 terabyte of memory per virtual machine.

Live migration is another critical aspect of the software-defined datacenter, because it allows the flexibility of moving virtual machines between physical servers with zero downtime. In the latest release of Windows Server we’ve made it easier to move large numbers of virtual machines for tasks such as dynamic load balancing with the same speed that you expect when moving a single virtual machine. We have built and exhaustively tested features in Hyper-V to ensure that features such as live migration work for Linux guests just as they do for Windows guests.

Additionally, networking has huge potential in datacenter transformation. With Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager, networks become a pooled resource that can be defined by software, managed centrally through automation, and extended beyond the datacenter. Adding management capabilities through software enables a very flexible approach.

A virtualized network also allows users to isolate resources, creating boundaries within the datacenter to enable multi-tenancy and keep workloads isolated from each other without placing them in separate hardware pools. They can also move workloads from one datacenter to another because the control plane for the network is all handled through software. Finally, Software-Defined Networking lets agencies connect easily to clouds outside the datacenter, treating cloud resources as an extension of their own infrastructure.

The benefits of datacenter transformation are real. Defense and national security organizations around the world are modernizing their datacenters and rapidly transitioning to cloud solutions to achieve efficiencies and agility, creating many opportunities for private cloud, public cloud, and hybrid. Microsoft’s Hybrid Cloud approach supports the standardization of datacenter infrastructure from static bases to forward-deployed, for the first time, achieving a single, unified architecture.

John Black
Senior Business Development Manager, Microsoft Datacenter & Cloud Strategy