Where are those Windows Azure Appliances?

Where are those Windows Azure Appliances?

Summary: What's going on with Microsoft's private-cloud-in-a-box -- its Windows Azure Appliances? No one's really saying....


In July 2010, Microsoft took the wraps off its plans for the Windows Azure Appliance, a kind of "private-cloud-in-a-box" available from select Microsoft partners. At that time, company officials said that OEMs including HP, Dell and Fujitsu would have Windows Azure Appliances in production and available to customers by the end of 2010.

We're half way through January 2011, but the promised Azure Appliances have yet to materialize.

I noticed MSPMentor.net, in January 6 interview with Microsoft channel chief Jon Roskill, asked about the appliances. In that interview, Roskill reportedly said Azure Appliances should be available in another nine months or so. So does that mean the Azure Appliances are almost a year behind schedule?

I asked the Azure team for comment and was told by a spokesperson that Microsoft had no update to share at this time.

I also asked HP, Dell and eBay -- the customer Microsoft focused on as part of the Windows Azure Appliance launch last year -- for updates.

HP didn't respond.

Update (January 18). Just received this update from Jeff Carlat, an HP Director of Marketing for its Industry Standard Servers Unit. He acknowledged there's been a delivery delay, but doesn't provide a new update on timing. His statement:

"HP and Microsoft continue to collaborate deeply on standing up a Windows Azure Interim Cloud Appliance.  Our primary focus to provide a superior customer experience has resulted in a push out of the availability of offering the hosted Azure services as we have jointly progressed on the planning process. We are jointly learning how best to augment the current Microsoft hosted appliance for HP and others to sell and service. Our collaboration across HP and with Microsoft on this key initiative is progressing well against the plan objectives with several key milestones completed."

Dell sent me this statement from Kris Fitzgerald, Dell Services CTO: “At the time of the announcement with Microsoft about Windows Azure, we stated it would be operational in Q1 of 2011. We are on target for those dates for initial customers and full deployment will occur shortly thereafter.” He also noted that Dell’s Q1 quarter is February 1 – April 30.

(For the record, I looked on Dell's site and found no references to Q1 2011 timing -- whether it be calendar or fiscal quarter -- in Dell's Azure Appliance press materials. I did find a quote from Fitzgerald on News.com, saying Dell planned to have an Azure Appliance up and running in its datacenter by the end of January 2011.)

An eBay spokesperson e-mailed the following update: "On the Windows Azure platform appliance side, we continue to work together with Microsoft on the integration and will be able to provide further update soon."

As described by Microsoft last summer, Windows Azure Appliances will be preconfigured containers with between hundreds and thousands of servers running the Windows Azure platform. These containers will be housed, at first, at Dell’s, HP’s and Fujitsu’s datacenters, with Microsoft providing the Azure infrastructure and services for these containers.

In the longer term, Microsoft is expecting some large enterprises, like eBay, to house the containers in their own datacenters on site — in other words, to run their own “customer-hosted clouds.”Over time, smaller service providers also will be authorized to make Azure Appliances available to their customers, as well.

I'm not implying that Microsoft is backing away from its Azure Appliance plans. (I've seen posts from folks who've received training to prepare for the forthcoming appliances.) But an official update from Microsoft's Azure team would be nice....

Topics: Microsoft, Dell, Operating Systems, Software, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • RE: Where are those Windows Azure appliances?

    I say, it'll be ready when it's ready. The last time MS rushed a product to market was Windows Vista and that sold a lot of Macs. Don't rush it. When it's ready, launch it.
    • Vista "rushed" to market??? It took them YEARS to get it to market

      With Vista, the wait was painful, and the result was worse. So, MS taking a long time is not a good sign . . . . .
      • Which one is it DonnieBoy? You keep flip-flopping

        In one breath (story) you claim it was rushed, and in another you say it isn't, that it took years?

        So which one is it, or do you just say the whatever you want to fit the story?
        John Zern
  • RE: Where are those Windows Azure appliances?

    MJ...you must keep in mind there is an acute shortage of management in the world of MS leaving one bean counter in charge of decision making.
    • RE: Where are those Windows Azure appliances?

      @CustomComputers yes, kind of makes it difficult when the visionaries are heading out the front door in droves. The captain better check himself before he's sailing the ship all alone.
  • The collapse of DE probably delayed it.

    It will be a while methinks.
  • RE: Where are those Windows Azure appliances?

    Somewhere over the rainbow. All promise, no delivery.
    • Exactly

      @james347 All promise, no delivery and a 90+ min per month down time.
  • RE: Where are those Windows Azure appliances?

    Azure conceptually requires a lot of trust, trust that MS won't fiddle with licensing, trust they will develop for scalability, trust that they won't lock in and exploit those people that buy into these cloud based services. But unlike Google, Microsoft has a history of giving dime bag services away on the cheap and hitting locked in customers later. Their marketing department is ruthless. Anti-Azure sentiments are already rising and it isn't even out yet. Marketing would have to offer certain assurances I'm sure they aren't willing to make, and MS may have decided it isn't worth extending a lot of resources into it until they can figure out how to make money from it without pissing people off.
  • RE: Where are those Windows Azure appliances?

    This isn't specific to Azure.This is a general paradigm valid for every product or service.

    Products for the mass market need to have a very gentle learning-curve, because they are used by novices with the specific purpose of simplifying their lives and enhanching the quality of their life styles.

    Products for professionals can have a steeper learning-curve because these are used to drive productivity or to perform the impossible.

    The ergonomics and ease of use are a bonus for this segement, while essential for the non-professional sector.
  • RE: Where are those Windows Azure appliances?

    Cloud Computing isn't worth a penny without trust and security. So these should be the features of utmost importance; any additional functionality would only sell once these concerns have been addressed first.

    Hope all the providers of Cloud Computing get their priorities right!
  • Hopefully it will never appear...

    MS based solutions are a security nightmare.

    YOU cannot put a Windows Server facing the Public_Internet,
    it has to be behind a firewall appliance.

    Linux/Unix distro's can face the Public_Internet.
    • RE: Where are those Windows Azure appliances?

  • RE: Where are those Windows Azure appliances?

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