Microsoft Preps Windows Azure Appliance for Private Clouds
At the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC10), the software giant is busy explaining how channel partners can potentially profit from Windows Azure, SQL Azure and a forthcoming Windows Azure appliance for private clouds backed by partners like Dell, eBay, Fujitsu and Hewlett-Packard. Here are the details.
Today started with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s cloud-centric keynote (here are 22 highlights). Now, Bob Muglia, president of Microsoft’s server and tools business, is on stage pitching Windows Azure and SQL Azure to roughly 9,500 Microsoft partners. Also, Muglia is explaining Dallas — a data marketplace that will be available by the end of this year. “What Dallas does… it takes and makes content — previously unavailable to developers — readily available to partners,” says Mulgia.
Windows Azure, released for about 5 months, has attracted 10,000 customers. Next up, Microsoft is launching the Windows Azure appliance. “It’s a service we deliver that you run in hardware that you own or have rented in your own data center,” says Muglia. It’s like a set-top box attached to your cable provider, Muglia explains. “That’s exactly what we’re doing with the Windows Azure appliance. Of course, we’re not doing this alone.”
The appliance is set to arrive later this year, with such partners as Dell, Muglia says. A Dell representative mentioned that Azure appliances will go vertical in such areas as health care and manufacturing. Also, an eBay representative described how the online market place will leverage the appliance. Fujitsu, Japan’s largest IT company, also said it plans to leverage the Windows Azure appliance. And Hewlett-Packard also vowed to back the Windows Azure appliance.
Hmmm… The VAR Guy wonders: How do 14,000 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) attendees feel about Dell being the very first guest on Microsoft’s Windows Azure Appliance stage?
Noticeably absent from the initial Windows Azure Appliance server partner list: IBM, Lenovo and Cisco’s Unified Computing System. IBM and Cisco UCS servers certainly are designed for big data centers. Will those two giants join the Azure appliance party? Lenovo, meanwhile, seems to be targeting SMBs with MSP-centric servers, so their absence from the initial Azure appliance party isn’t shocking.
Similar to Intel Hybrid Cloud?
In some ways, the Azure appliance sounds a bit like the Intel Hybrid Cloud initiative, which involves on-premises Windows Server or Small Business Server deployments blended with cloud services.
However, it sounds like Intel Hybrid Cloud targets small and midsize businesses, while Windows Azure appliances will scale all the way up to large on-premises data centers.
The VAR Guy will be digging for more Windows Azure appliance details later today. One key questions: How will channel partners profit from such appliances?