Microsoft is currently hosting its Worldwide Partners Conference in Washington, and among the many announcements made during the event was the introduction of the Azure Platform Appliance.
Windows Azure is Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, currently hosted in a number of Microsoft datacenters worldwide, available for anyone from a bedroom coder to a global corporation to use for scaling web applications cost-effectively.
The Azure Platform Appliance’s main purpose is to overcome large enterprises and government’s problems of not permitting (for licensing, privacy, or legal reasons) their data to be stored and processed on hardware belonging to another company, such as what happens with Azure and Microsoft. It is also suitable for service providers who may wish to own their own version of the cloud platform. The appliance is more a specification for a set of hardware – consisting of serving, storage and networking hardware – that is capable of running the Azure software. The company can then host the servers and run the software in their own datacenter.
This Azure offering goes one stage further than what is currently offered by the likes of Google, Salesforce and Amazon, in that it will be more suited to the targeted government and large enterprise clients which require the physical control, security and ownership that cannot be provided in a datacenter belonging to another company. Initial partnerships have been announced with Dell, HP, Fujitsu and eBay.