A new Microsoft Azure platform appliance, unveiled Monday at the company's Worldwide Partner Conference currently taking place in Washington, D.C., allows large service providers and enterprises to manage their own private Azure clouds instead of using Microsoft's servers. The company said this offers "greater physical control, geographic proximity, regulatory compliance, and data sovereignty."
Also announced were strategic partnerships with Dell, eBay, Hewlett-Packard, and Fujitsu to help build and service the private clouds. Microsoft described the appliance as "the first turnkey cloud platform for large service providers and enterprises to deploy their own data centers." The appliance combines Azure and SQL Azure with Microsoft-specified hardware, and is optimized for scale-out applications and data-center efficiency, using as many as tens of thousands of servers.
Dell, eBay and HP
The Windows Azure platform is a public cloud-computing platform designed to allow businesses to pay only for what is used, scale up when capacity is needed, and let Microsoft handle the maintenance. The platform is designed to be flexible enough to accommodate small companies, independent software vendors, or global enterprises.
Dell said it will use the platform appliance as part of its Dell Services Cloud to create next-generation services for business customers of all sizes. Dell will also develop its own branded version of the appliance for large enterprise, public and hosting customers to utilize in their own data centers.
eBay will use the platform appliance in two of its data centers to better optimize its platform and provide greater agility. Certain applications, such as the site's page for iPad listings, are currently hosted on Azure.
HP said it will work with Microsoft to provide hardware, software, services and sourcing solutions that will help customers move to the Azure platform. HP's customers can manage the appliance on site with HP Converged Infrastructure, or they can choose HP to provide the data-center hosting services. The two companies said they will release a limited-production appliance by the end of 2010 for use in HP data centers.
'Microsoft's Partner Play'
Similarly, Fujitsu will deploy the appliance in its data centers, offering new cloud services such as system integration, cloud migration, and managed services. In addition, Fujitsu will run its own applications on the appliance.
Al Hilwa, program director for application development at IDC, noted that "everyone has been asking what Microsoft's partner play will be with Azure," and, he added, "here it is." He said it was "good" to see Microsoft distinguishing Azure from "Windows proper."
Hilwa pointed out that Azure is now "mature enough to be packaged as a set of services into a turnkey appliance that can be run at a hoster or at a customer site on premises," and now Microsoft is involving OEMs for hardware and hosters for service.
But, he noted, there are some limitations. "The Azure platform is suitable for a certain type of applications that require elastic scale," he said, but "existing applications cannot run unmodified and might need some serious work to scale properly with Azure. It is a new way of writing certain types of applications that has become more common in the cloud, where often elastic scale is more important than data consistency."
Posted: 2010-08-31 @ 1:55am PT
Now that HP has formally announced CloudStart, what is the connection between their partnership with Microsoft to source & support WAPA as a Cloud In A Box solution, and provisioning & supporting their own brand of Cloud To Go?
Either way it seems to me that the connection, if it does exist, is somewhat tenuous - if not highly conflicted.