Microsoft finds a new way to deliver a private cloud in a box

Microsoft finds a new way to deliver a private cloud in a box

Summary: With the newly announced Windows Azure Pack, Microsoft may have found a way to deliver its long-promised private cloud in a box.


It took three years from when it was first announced, but Microsoft may have found a way to deliver a private cloud in a box.


The company's vision and strategy for doing this has gone through many twists and turns.

Microsoft's original plan was to provide its largest partners and even a few, select enterprise users a so-called Azure Appliance. Announced in 2010, the Azure Appliances were to be carried by Dell, Fujitsu and HP. These OEMs were to provide the servers which could be installed in partner and select enterprise customers' datacenters. Microsoft was supposed to provide and maintain Windows Azure as a service to these servers.

The only partner that ever delivered an Azure Appliance was Fujitsu, which announced availability in August 2011. But some time in the past few months, Microsoft ended up dropping its Azure Appliance plans, without ever officially announcing it was dead.

On June 3 at its TechEd conference, Microsoft officials announced a new product called Windows Azure Pack. For all intents and purposes, as cloud expert Roger Jennings said to me via Twitter today, the Azure Pack delivers what Microsoft promised with the Azure Appliance.

Microsoft's own Web site description of the new Azure Pack basically corroborates this. "The Windows Azure Pack delivers Windows Azure technologies for you to run inside your datacenter, enabling you to offer rich, self-service, multi-tenant services that are consistent with Windows Azure," the introduction notes.

As Microsoft itself explains in its free, downloadable white paper on Windows Azure Pack (thanks for the link @ehorley), the Windows Azure Pack is a superset of the horribly named "Windows Azure Services for Windows Server" technology, which Microsoft announced back in July 2012, and which it made generally available in January 2013.

Windows Azure Services for Windows Server is a set of select features that originally debuted as part of Windows Azure which Microsoft made available to its service providers. The core set of technologies in this were hosted Linux and Windows Server virtual machines; support for high-density Web sites (the complement of Windows Azure Web Sites, codenamed "Antares"); Service Management Portal; and a Service Management application programming interface (codenamed Katal).

 The components in the Azure Pack include a management portal; service management programming interface; a Web sites service; a virtual machines service; and service bus support.

Topics: Cloud, Microsoft, Servers, Windows Server


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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  • "Windows Azure Services for Windows Server"

    LD is probably warming up his fingers right now, for writing "Microsoft Windows Azure Services for Microsoft Windows Server". Maybe on his Microsoft Windows Phone 8 phone.
    • Smalahove....No if Loverock Davidson was smart he'd be filling his own

      pipe right now with something good so he could create his own white puffy clouds.........
      Over and Out
  • What sort of a server do you need

    to run Windows Azure Services for Windows Server on in order to server up the cloud from your server?
    • WinSrv 2012

      The goto option for now. I know some clients are already using it to setup own private cloud.
    • I'm a little unclear what it does

      Allows your servers to act as a giant services cluster, or....?
      • Cloud is just a buzzword for non-techy people/customers

        business as usual, your basically just selling space in your datacenter.
  • It will be interesting to see...

    how this compares to OpenStack technologies like Nebula and other appliances. I'm assuming you can not only divvy up your own resources, but you can partition usable space in Windows Azure for your 'tenants' to use as well? This gets pretty slick if it works well. This is the grace that AWS lacks, IMO.
  • Now the peons can have the same power I have...

    My rep told me this was coming and I was prepared for it. Of course we were running this years ago but we did not need to wait for a pre-packaged offering. I had hundreds of MCS consultants onsite for years building this out. I have had the power of the cloud at my disposal ever since my rep told me about cloud computing. To lesser CIOs, I can only hope you appreciate what Microsoft is offering you. As an all-powerful CIO, I have had the power of the cloud for years.
    Mike Cox
    • Love ya Mike!

      Where have you been?

      Next time your rep takes you to Daniel's, have the rib eye, it is fantastic!
  • I got your "cloud" in a box

    Anyone else sing this headline to the skit theme in their head?
    Justin Timberlake?
    • LOL!!! Great SNL Skit!!!

      Followed closely by "mother lover", "I'm on a boat", and "Jizz in pants".
  • Good!

    Good information on Microsoft's products!
  • Cloudburst?

    Not to "rain" on anyone's parade, but there have been warnings that the data traffic capacity of the internet's physical links and routing devices (NOT to be confused with addressing capability, which IPv6 will solve if we ever get past the administrative roadblocks to universal conversion) is approaching the limit of physics itself, and Moore's law may not save us from this limit.

    Are any of the companies planning to move"everything" to the "cloud" considering this? Once the capability of INSTANT connectivity at ANY distance (i.e. number of links) has been ASSUMED as part of the way we do things, and especially as part of the way our devices and software MUST do things, this congestion, even WITHOUT disruptions of service, can seriously cripple our economy, health care, transportation safety, legal system, and many other aspects of daily life. In other words, how can you depend on the "cloud" and still be able to carry out missions if the "cloud" response time is TOO SLOW or even UNAVAILABLE?

    Use "cloud" connections when NECESSARY, not just "because they are there." An example is Siri, which gives the user the ILLUSION of the voice processing being done inside the phone, whereas it is actually done in some Apple(-contracted?) server somewhere. Keep the "cloud" functionality for when it is REALLY needed. Otherwise, we are like the person in the 1950's who called the "time" number (yes, there were ad-supported time of day lines) constantly instead of having his own clock!

    If we waste the capacity of the "cloud" we may find ourselves in a "cloudburst" of failing applications and devices.