It's bigger than a breadbox. And you probably
won't be sticking it in your kitchen this summer. But make no mistake, the "appliance"
that Microsoft announced at this week's Worldwide Partner Conference is not
only a technical marvel, it's concrete evidence of the depth of Microsoft's
commitment to cloud computing.
If you've seen the news,
you might still wonder: exactly what is
the Windows Azure platform appliance? As Robert Wahbe (VP of Microsoft Server
and Tools Marketing) notes in this blog
post, it is a unique hardware-software offering that delivers network,
storage, and computing resources based on the full Windows Azure platform stack
(Windows Azure and SQL Azure). Dell, eBay, Fujitsu, and Hewlett-Packard are starting
to deploy it now.
Once in the
market, it will be a serious cloud offering. As Robert puts it, "Service providers, governments and large enterprises who would
consider buying, say, 1,000 servers at a time, will be able to deploy and
manage the appliance in their datacenter." So in addition to the massive scale
and multi-tenancy that come with the Windows Azure Services platform, it offers
the added benefits of control: physical location, geo-proximity, data
sovereignty, and regulatory Compliance.
To get a deeper overview, I talked with Scott
Ottaway, one of the key product managers on the Windows Server team who is
seriously focused on the Windows Azure platform appliance:
As Scott noted, the announcement of the appliance is another milestone in Microsoft's intensive efforts to make cloud computing a reality. Here's an overview of other Microsoft info/voices out of WPC this week:
I found a short technical write up about Azure...