This wiki post is about the thinking and the philosophy that went into the Cloud Infrastructure Solution for Enterprise IT document set. When you first look at the titles of the documents in the set, you’ll probably think that this is a typical set of white papers put out by Microsoft. However, if you look inside them, I hope that you’ll think we’ve created a collection of documents that takes you past what is available today on cloud infrastructure documentation using Microsoft Windows Server 2012 platform technologies and that it fills a gap you might have sensed.

So what is it that was missing? What was the missing link? We thought about all the documentation that we have on Windows Server 2012 platform capabilities that enable you to build a cloud infrastructure and came to the conclusion that while that information is well done and enables you to “do stuff” with our technologies, it really doesn’t help you put all of the pieces together. The challenge is that there are literally thousands of options and an uncountable number of permutations of those options. How are you, the person who is responsible for putting together a cloud infrastructure that will power your private cloud going to know which options to use, when to use them, why you use them and in what order to deploy them?

If you’re like me, you probably read about all the features and then start playing with them. If you get stuck, you try to find out what a particular option does. After you figure out enough of them, you then try to put a the pieces together and hope that it works. In most cases, you’ll find that things won’t work the first, second, fifth and tenth times. However, sooner or later you do get things working. At that point you declare victory and move on. The problem is, is this really the best way to deploy a complex system such as a private cloud infrastructure on which you will build your Infrastructure as a Service offering?

We didn’t think so, so the Server and Cloud Division Information Experience Team thought about how we can save you the frustration and the time to figure out how to approach your design and implementation decisions for a cloud infrastructure. What is the process that you actually should go through? What is step 1? What should you think about before you even get to the technological discussion? And when the time comes to think about technology, what should the emphasis be? Do you really think in terms of storage, networking and compute? Or, do you think in terms of what types of workloads you want to run on that infrastructure? To answer these questions, we put together the Cloud Infrastructure Solution for Enterprise IT.

The Cloud Infrastructure Solution for Enterprise IT provides the information you need to design and implement a core cloud infrastructure using Windows Server 2012 platform technologies. The core cloud infrastructure will include the storage, network, and compute elements that go into powering any cloud solution – something that can be used for a IaaS, PaaS or even SaaS scenarios. However, the document set focuses on the cloud infrastructure from the perspective of a fictitious company wanting to implement a IaaS solution. The document set includes a scenario definition, design options guide and an implementation guide. Let’s take a closer look at each of the guides and our thinking behind each of them.

Scenario Definition

The document set starts with the Scenario Definition. The goal of the scenario guide is to provide you an example of a fictitious company that is about to embark on the road to cloud computing. They want to put together an Infrastructure as a Service solution so that the company’s business groups can get their solutions up and running faster, without having to wait for new hardware, racking and stacking, and all the other things that go into putting together a siloed infrastructure for a particular application.

The scenario guide walks you through the process of Contoso setting forth their requirements for the cloud infrastructure on which they’ll subsequently build an Infrastructure as a Service solution. This guide should help you think about your own requirements. While Contoso’s requirements won’t be the same as yours, you can see what their thought processes were and you can build on those.

Design Options Guide

The next document in the set is the Design Options Guide. This is the longest document in the set. The reason for that is that the goal of the design options guide is to provide you with the entire universe of options available to you for building a cloud infrastructure powered by Windows Server 2012. You’ll see that when you go through the design options guide that there are hundreds of different options. This guide discusses those options and provides you with a roadmap on how to think about those options. It let’s you know if there are options that are incompatible with other options, and exposes these options based on capabilities, not features.

We believe that you want to put together the cloud infrastructure based on the capabilities you require and that you think in terms of capabilities. Only after you are aware of the capabilities are you concerned about the features that enable them. When we discuss the features, we do so within the context of the entire solution, not of the feature itself. We also provide you with useful design tips so that you can avoid gotcha’s. Finally, we make sure to cover availability, performance and security issues for storage, networking and compute.

Design Decisions Guide

The design options guide gave you the entire universe of options and the scenario guide provided you with requirements. What happens if you take the design options guide and put it through the requirements filter of the scenario guide? You get the Design Decisions Guide. The goal of the design decisions guide is to let you see the rationale Contoso used to decide which design options to enable in their cloud infrastructure. In the design decisions guide, we go through all the design issues that were surfaced in the design options guide, and see which options map to Contoso’s requirements. For each design point, Contoso makes a decision and the rationale for that decision is discussed. You can use this to help guide your thought process as you reach the point where you’re ready to make your own design decisions for your cloud infrastructure.

Implementation Guide

With the design decisions made, it’s time to actually create the infrastructure based on the design. Sure, we could leave it to you to figure out, but what fun is that? That’s why we created the Implementation Guide. The goal of the implementation guide it to provide you with a stepwise process that will enable you to create the design that Contoso finalized on in the design decisions guide.

Note that I say “stepwise” here instead of step-by-step. We assumed that anyone who is interested in putting the solution together is going to have years of experience with Microsoft technologies, so a step by step approach isn’t required. Instead, we provide you with the major tasks that you need to create and the order that they need to be accomplished, because if you don’t do things in the right order, something might not work. But instead of step by steps, we provide you links to the information you need if you don’t know how to carry out the step. We think this will be an effective approach for the experienced enterprise IT administrator. We would like your feedback on this to confirm that we made the right decision.


The Cloud Infrastructure Solution for Enterprise IT is designed to help you get your cloud infrastructure up in running as quickly and effectively as possible. We wanted to help you make the best decisions about what options to enable in your cloud infrastructure by providing you a scenario, options, decisions and implementation. We believe that we’ve done a lot of the “heavy lifting” for you and that by reading these documents you reduce the amount of time it will take for your to create a well architected cloud infrastructure. We’d love to hear what you think about these docs and if you think they achieved their goals! You can write to me, Tom Shinder, at tomsh@microsoft.com and I’ll get back to you ASAP and incorporate your suggestions in subsequent revisions of this document set. Thanks! –Tom.