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Microsoft, Dell team up for new, standard 'cloud in a box' system

Microsoft and Dell are rolling out a new, lower priced cloud-in-a-box system that integrates Dell hardware and Microsoft Azure cloud services and Windows Server software.

Last October, Microsoft and Dell announced their first jointly-developed premium "cloud in a box" appliance, the Microsoft Cloud Platform System.

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A year later, on October 21, the pair announced a second member of that family. Dell is calling the new system, focused on hybrid-cloud customers, the "Dell Hybrid Cloud System for Microsoft." The underlying platform, built on Azure, is known as Cloud Platform System (CPS) Standard.

The integrated hardware/software offering, for which Dell is taking orders starting October 21, combines Dell servers and networking switches, coupled with preconfigured CPS software from Microsoft.

CPS Standard currently includes Windows Azure Pack, System Center 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2012 R2 and is ready to install Microsoft Azure Stack, when it is available next year. Azure services for back-up, site-recovery and operational insights are part of the bundle, as are Dell's ProSupport and Managed Cloud Services.

Dell officials said customers of the newest cloud-in-a-box system will be able to go from "crate to cloud" in three hours.

The original CPS offering was a rack-scale system aimed at large enterprise users. The new version lets customers start small, with four servers, and grow up to 16 physical nodes in a single system,

Microsoft officials said the systems are jointly engineered and validated by Microsoft and Dell, though Dell is the single point of support contact for the hybrid system, with Microsoft providing back-up expertise on the software and services side.

To try to attract small- to mid-size businesses, as well as government and education customers, Dell is adding new Dell Cloud Flex Pay as a new financing option. Pricing for the new hybrid-cloud system starts at $9,000 per month for the first six months.