[This article was contributed by the SQL Azure team.]

Today in front of 13,000 attendees at the Worldwide Partner Conference Bob Muglia, corporate vice president of Server and Tools announced the Windows Azure Appliance among lots of cloud news at the conference. The new Windows Azure platform appliance combines Windows Azure and Microsoft SQL Azure with Microsoft-specified hardware, enabling on-demand IT capacity and faster delivery of new applications. Large enterprises and service provider partners deploying the appliance in their datacenters will have the benefits of the cloud services that Microsoft offers today, while maintaining physical control of location, regulatory compliance and data.  More details are in Bob’s blog.

Dell, Fujitsu, and Hewlett-Packard are implementing a limited production release of the appliance in their datacenters, so they can deliver cloud services to customers, and we are working with them so they can offer the appliance to run in customer datacenters, too. eBay is an early appliance customer. They believe the Windows Azure platform appliance will help them more easily launch new products and features, while eliminating manual IT processes and reducing costs.

Stay tuned for more.