Microsoft Prepares Windows Azure Cloud Appliances for MSPs

Microsoft Prepares Windows Azure Cloud Appliances for MSPs

When Microsoft Channel Chief Jon Roskill (pictured) first spoke about Windows Azure appliances for private clouds in mid-2010, the software giant planned to target really big hardware deployments and large enterprises. But during a phone conversation today, Roskill said Microsoft plans to ensure Windows Azure appliances also appeal to smaller managed services providers (MSPs). Here's how.

Our conversation covered a range of topics, including Microsoft's cloud billing model for channel partners; virtualization trends in the channel; Microsoft's channel momentum with CRM; and overall milestones since Roskill was named channel chief in mid-2010.

But for this blog entry, let's focus on the Windows Azure Platform Appliance, which Microsoft first discussed during the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in July 2010.

"I think you'll see everything from big containers to a small footprint on the Windows Azure Appliances," said Roskill. In some cases, the footprint could be as small as four servers, he added. The Azure Appliances use the same software design as Microsoft's Windows Azure public cloud. However, the Azure Appliances are similar to cable boxes in terms of concept: VARs and MSPs can deploy them as private cloud solutions. Then Microsoft can remotely auto-update the appliances. "I do think what we'll see in the Azure Appliance will be a great way for MSPs to play in [the private cloud] space," Roskill said.

Still, the Azure Appliance effort will take some time to roll out. Roskill estimates that the first Azure Appliances from hardware vendors should debut around nine months from now.

Meanwhile, Roskill sees opportunities for MSPs to connect the dots between on-premise systems and cloud solutions. He noted that the Windows Azure Connect allows partners and customers to link an on-premise applications to a Web service up in the Azure cloud.

It's clear that Roskill has been spending more time with MSPs since being named channel chief in mid-2010. During our discussion, Roskill pointed to multiple MSP-centric meetings he has hosted across the U.S. That's encouraging. Rewind to the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in July 2010, and Roskill had conceded he needed to study MSP trends more closely.

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TAGS: On Premise
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