At WPC 2010, Microsoft announced a Windows Azure based private cloud for enterprises: https://www.microsoft.com/Presspass/press/2010/jul10/07-12CloudComputingPR.mspx.

The Windows Azure platform appliance is targeted towards companies which buy 1000 servers or more.The appliance will run on-premise leveraging Microsoft specified hardware and offers Windows Azure and SQL Azure capabilities. Even though it runs on-premise it still is a service offering where Microsoft will update the software at a mutually acceptable schedule.

Windows Azure appliance will help with running IT as a business and empower customers overcome the issues of public cloud adoption. Even though large enterprises agree that the adoption of cloud computing is inevitable, most customers are worried about the following:

  • Loss of control
  • Data governance
  • Data sovereignty
  • Security
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Consistency of user experience

For the above reasons, some customers are hesitant towards public clouds. The customers with applications that require stringent data governance, private cloud  is an attractive choice.  Windows Azure platform appliance enables private clouds for customers who operate large data centers. The difference between Azure platform appliance and the typical private cloud is that Azure appliance is a combination both Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). 

Traditional virtualization implementations lack systematic self-provisioning, automatic charge-back processes, resource scales to be effective in the long run. Windows Azure platform appliance over a period of time is expected to address all the above critical success factors.  Private PaaS and IaaS allows customers focus on building and delivering applications while optimizing the time spent on  infrastructure management.

Another limiting factor for public clouds is the ISV and solution provider support. You may build the best public cloud out there and if there are no ISV/solution provider applications, the adoption will be limited. Now, because of the continuum of Microsoft cloud computing from private clouds to public clouds, an ISV/solution provider can build/migrate an application to Windows Azure platform and make it available on public, partner as well as private clouds.   Customers can pick and choose a cloud implementation based on their comfort level.

Currently Windows Azure platform appliance is planned to be adopted by partners Dell, Fujitsu, HP and a customer eBay.

Dell, eBay and Fujitsu were on stage with Bob Muglia when the announcements were made.

Per Dell’s Peter Altabef, Dell will be running Windows Azure appliance on Dell web sites as well as providing Dell Powered Windows Azure platform appliance to customers, partners, and solution providers.

James Barrese, VP of Technology, eBay indicated that the appliance allows them to take advantage of the cloud in creating  innovations for buyers and sellers. The Windows Azure applications allows eBay to leverage  the engineering practices they perfected and apply them to the next generation on-premise cloud platform while at the same time retaining the full control of the environment as the appliance will be within the 4 walls of the eBay data center.

Mark Silvester,  Senior VP and Global CTO, Fujitsu said that they will deploy Windows Azure platform appliance across their globally available data centers to be leveraged by their customers, partners, and ISVs. Azure is enabling Fujitsu to new markets, new business value, and new partner and customer delivered services.

HP was absent on the stage but Bob did  mention that HP is announcing similar partnership like the other partners. HP will be manufacturing applications as well running the appliance inside HP Enterprise Services for providing services to its customers and partners.

Following are a few resources about today’s announcement:

https://www.microsoft.com/Presspass/press/2010/jul10/07-12CloudComputingPR.mspx

https://www.microsoft.com/Presspass/press/2010/jul10/07-12MSFujitsuAzurePR.mspx

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/windowsazure/archive/2010/07/12/just-announced-at-wpc-the-windows-azure-platform-appliance.aspx 

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsazure/appliance/ 

Dell blog: http://en.community.dell.com/dell-blogs/b/inside-enterprise-it/archive/2010/07/12/the-dell-azure-cloud-amp-appliance.aspx

Steve Marx talks about appliance means for developers.

http://channel9.msdn.com/posts/dunnry/Introducing-the-Windows-Azure-Platform-Appliance/

Overall, I am excited about our private cloud announcement; stay tuned for more details on the implementation details, support processes, pricing and other operational aspects of the Windows Azure platform appliance.

-Hanu