Microsoft's mysterious Azure-in-a-box not for the 'faint of heart'

Microsoft makes its entrance into the private cloud space with an appliance -- but keeps it under wraps.

Microsoft is making important moves in the private cloud space, but is looking at the high-end enterprise segment of the market to get things rolling.

Carl Brooks, writing in SearchCloudComputing, notes that Microsoft has developed an appliance, called the Windows Azure Platform Appliance, that supports its cloud environment. However, unlike most Microsoft tools, is not targeted at Joe developer, Joe end user, or Joe SMB.

Not too much was made available in the way of details in terms of hardware, software or networking. But Brooks says that the Azure appliance "is not for the faint of heart, nor is it available to the general public. Microsoft said it is targeting IT organizations that buy hundreds or thousands of servers at a time, like governments, service providers and very large enterprises."

It was said that current customers including Dell, HP, Fujitsu and eBay are installing the appliance within their data centers. (Ironically, Fujitsu is also a potential competitor to Microsoft in the cloud space.)

Brooks reports on another private cloud offering from Microsoft: System Center Virtual Machine Manager Self Service Portal, formerly the Dynamic Data Center Toolkit, an infrastructure and automation toolkit designed to run in a Windows Server 2008 data center.