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Azure Cloud Platform Deployable to Enterprises

I am excited about this - this is not, in my opinion, just your basic run of the mill IT news

Microsoft announced and released July 12 new version of its Windows Azure platform which will operate as an appliance.  This platform, which is supported by a strong partner community (including Dell, Fujitsu and HP), provides enhanced means for enterprises to run cloud services, either internally or for their own customers.

This is not, in my opinion, just your basic run of the mill IT news.  At least not to technologists who track and seek to implement enterprise based cloud capabilities.

Background: Enterprises were the pioneers of enhanced delivery of capability via clouds, with modern enterprise data center environments providing many scalable, efficient, optimized resources.  But for the most part these capabilities have been focused on things that matter to IT departments more than to end users.  End users want continually increasing contributions to the mission and, for the most part, do not focus on cost savings, power savings or elastic computing constructs.

Now consider the potential of this Azure announcement.  Microsoft’s platform for cloud computing is available in an appliance.  This means companies and government organizations can now buy something that delivers Azure capabilities from inside their enterprise.  And they can do that in a way that links the capability into the enterprise governance, performance and security infrastructures Microsoft has long supported.   Users get more power, agility and flexibility, enterprises get better mission alignment, and IT departments get more efficient resource utilization.

Here is more from Microsoft:

Our strategy is to provide the full range of cloud capabilities in both public and private clouds. I won’t spend time here discussing our Microsoft Online Servicesand other software as a service offerings – that’s another post – but will focus on how we are enabling platform and infrastructure in the cloud through both a services platform (Windows Azure) and a server platform (Windows Server), connected through a common set of tools and experiences.

Why do we distinguish between the two?  A cloud services platform must run on hundreds and thousands of computers distributed over multiple geographies, while providing a single, integrated computing platform for IT professionals and developers. A services platform also needs to provide a full-featured database and support existing systems and applications so they can run in the cloud. TheWindows Azure platform, available since February, is such a cloud services platform. It is made up of Windows Azure and SQL Azure and it is being used by more than 10,000 customers today for a wide variety of applications.

But some customers are looking for more control than a public cloud offering can provide – control over things like physical location, proximity to other systems, data management, and regulatory compliance. To help address this need, Bob announced today that we are extending the Windows Azure services platform by offering the Windows Azure platform appliance that customers or partners can run in their own datacenters.

The appliance is the same Windows Azure platform we run at Microsoft, and includes Windows Azure and SQL Azure on Microsoft-specified hardware. Using it, service providers, governments and large enterprises will be able to get the control they need, while still getting the benefits of scale, multi–tenancy, and low operational costs.

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.

Key reasons I am excited about this:

1) This is Microsoft playing to some key traditional strengths, like enterprise IT and data center automation.

2) This lets users work with the same ecosystem of IT providers they already trust and work with, including Microsoft.

3) This enables enterprises to leverage more cloud capabilities from inside their enterprise.  (Yes it is true this trend has been underway for a while, but this is an acceleration in a great direction).

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley writes on enterprise IT. He is a founder of Crucial Point and publisher of

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