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Datacenter Abstraction Layer Center

Some believe the cloud is something you bolt on top of a static operating system. At Microsoft, we fundamentally disagree with this view. The issues of cloud computing are all classic operating system issues.  In a recent blog post, the President of Microsoft Server and Tools Business Satya Nadella stated:


“At the most basic level, any operating system has two 'jobs': it needs to manage the underlying hardware, and it needs to provide a platform for applications. The fundamental role of an operating system has not changed, but the scale at which servers are deployed and the type of applications now available or in development are changing massively.”


Microsoft’s vision of a CloudOS is to execute these missions in the context of a data center (instead of a single server). The datacenter abstraction layer (DAL) is our work with the industry to provide a common management abstraction for all the resources of a data center to make it simple and easy to adopt and deploy cloud computing. The DAL is not specific to one operating system; it benefits UNIX cloud-computing efforts every bit as much as Windows.  


The DAL uses the existing DMTF standards-based management stack to manage all the resources of a data center: physical servers, storage devices, networking devices, hypervisors, operating systems, application frameworks, services, and applications. The DAL is different than other cloud efforts in that it uses - and builds on - proven management stack technologies, instead of inventing new ones.


The figure below shows the relationship between devices, the DAL, and the applications and services that use the DAL:

Microsoft believes in the power of the cloud computing and is committed to making the migration from on-premises solutions to the cloud as easy as possible. Read the complete Datacenter Abstraction Layer (DAL) white paperfor the full discussion.

Additional DAL resources

  • DAL Overview
  • Network switch implementation guidelines (no longer available)



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Interop Resources

Standards Organizations

The DAL adopts the following standards:

Distributed Management Task Force ( DMTF)

Storage Networking Industry Association ( SNIA)

The Open Group ( Open Group)

International Organization for Standardization ( ISO)

Articles from the Windows Server blog

DAL in Action: Introducing PCSV Cmdlets for Out-of-Band Management of Server Hardware

This post covers Out-Of-Band hardware management using new PCSVDevice cmdlets and how it applies to the larger topic of “Transform the Datacenter.” 

31 July 2013


DAL in Action: Managing Network Switches Using PowerShell and CIM

This post covers management of network switches using CIM and WS-Man standards and how it applies to the larger topic of “Transform the Datacenter.” 

31 July 2013


WS-Management ISO/IEC Standard

In this article, Wassim Fayed, a Principal PM in our Standards Based Management team talks about a significant advance in the industry’s embrace of this approach. 

26 February 2013


Software Defined Networking, Enabled in Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012 SP1, Virtual Machine Manager

In this article, Sandeep Singhal, GM of the Windows Networking team, and Vijay Tewari, Group Program Manager in the SCVMM team, talk about Microsoft's Software Defined Networking (SDN) solution.

22 August 2012


Open Management Infrastructure

With Windows Server 2012, Windows has shifted its focus to become a Cloud OS, so a new abstraction layer is required – a Datacenter Abstraction Layer or DAL.  Microsoft is, once again, joining with other companies to define the DAL. 

22 February 2013


More Windows Server blog articles ->


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