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Microsoft Azure Cloud in a Box Comes into View

Microsoft used its TechEd conference in Barcelona this week to give customers a first look at the new Azure cloud in a box. The so-called Cloud Platform System (CPS), announced at an event held last week in San Francisco led by CEO Satya Nadella and Executive VP for Cloud and Enterprise Scott Guthrie, is Microsoft's effort to let customers or hosting providers run their own Azure clouds.

The first CPS is available from Dell, though describing the company as the "first" to provide one implies that other major hardware providers may have plans for their own iterations -- or perhaps it's only at the wishful thinking stage. At any rate, CPS has been a long time coming.

As you may recall, Microsoft first announced plans to release such an offering more than four years ago. At the time, Dell, Hewlett Packard and Fujitsu were planning to offer what was then coined the Windows Azure Platform Appliance, and eBay had planned to run one. Though Microsoft took it on a roadshow that year, it suddenly disappeared.

Now it's back and Corporate VP Jason Zander showcased it in his TechEd Europe opening keynote, inviting attendees to check it out on the show floor. "This is an Azure-consistent cloud in a box," he said. "We think this is going to give you the ability to adopt the cloud with even greater control. You energize it, you hook it up to your network and you're basically good to go."

The CPS appears more modest than the original Windows Azure Platform Appliance in that they are sold as converged rack-based systems and don't come in prefabricated containers with air conditioning and cooling systems. The racks are configured with Dell PowerEdge servers, storage enclosures and network switches. Each rack includes 32 CPU notes and up to 282TB of storage. On the software side customers get Windows Server 2012 R2 with Hyper-V, configured in a virtualized multi-tenant architecture, System Center 2012 R2 and the Windows Azure Pack to provide the Azure-tie functionality within a customer's datacenter.

So far, the first two known customers of the CPS are NTTX, which will use it to provide its own Azure infrastructure as a service in Japan and CapGemini, which will provide its own solutions for customers running in the Azure cloud.  

CapGemini is using it for an offering called SkySight, which will run a variety of applications including SharePoint and Lync as well as a secure policy driven orchestration service based on its own implementation of Azure. "SkySite is a hybrid solution where we will deliver a complete integrated application store and a developer studio all using Microsoft technologies," said CapGemini Corporate VP Peter Croes, in a pre-recorded video presented by Zander during the keynote. "CPS for me is the integrated platform for public and private cloud. Actually it's the ideal platform to deliver the hybrid solution. That is what the customers are looking for."

Microsoft last week tried to differentiate itself from Amazon Web Services and Google in its hybrid approach. CPS could become an important component of Azure's overall success.


Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 10/31/2014 at 1:00 PM


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