Just Announced at WPC: the Windows Azure Platform Appliance

At the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Washington D.C. today, Bob Muglia outlined our vision for the cloud and explained how we’re investing heavily in supporting both customers and partners as they shift to the cloud.  For those customers who are looking for more control than a public cloud offering can provide, Bob announced today the Windows Azure Platform Appliance, a turnkey cloud platform that customers and partners can deploy in their own datacenter.

Read on for answers to the top line questions you may have about the appliance. You can also watch a new Channel9 video with Steve Marx and Ryan Dunn who provide an overview of the appliance, or visit the Windows Azure Platform Appliance page.  To learn more about all of the news Bob announced today, you can read the press release, watch the keynote and check out the post by Robert Wahbe, corporate vice president, Microsoft Server and Tools, recapping the news.

What is the Windows Azure Platform Appliance?

The Windows Azure Platform Appliance consists of Windows Azure, SQL Azure and a Microsoft-specified configuration of network, storage and server hardware. Service providers, governments and large enterprises who would, for example, invest in a 1000 servers at a time, will be able to deploy the Windows Azure platform on their own hardware in their datacenter.  Microsoft Windows Azure Platform Appliance is optimized for scale out applications – such as eBay- and datacenter efficiency across hundreds to thousands to tens-of-thousands servers.

What are the benefits of the appliance?

The main benefit of the appliance is that it provides the benefits of the Windows Azure platform with greater physical control, geographic proximity, regulatory compliance and data sovereignty. 

Does the appliance include hardware, what kind?

The appliance will run only on network, storage and server hardware that meets the Windows Azure platform reference specifications. We’ve invested significant engineering resources to ensure that the hardware required by the appliance is optimized to enable service availability, automated management and power, cooling and operational efficiency across tens of thousands of servers. Based on industry-standard x64 hardware, customers will be able to purchase the appliance from a choice of partners.

Is the Microsoft Windows Azure Platform Available now?

The appliance software (Windows Azure and SQL Azure) is currently being delivered to a small set of service provider partners (Dell, Fujitsu and HP) and a customer (eBay) to run on Microsoft-specified hardware in their datacenters.

What is the partner opportunity in the cloud? With the Windows Azure Platform Appliance?

There is tremendous opportunity for partners in the cloud, and we’re committed to working with our strong partner ecosystem to make this transition a win for all of us.The appliance presents even more opportunity for ISVs to efficiently build and cost-effectively deliver new and existing applications on the Windows Azure platform. Roughly 30% of our current Azure subscriptions to date are via partners.

Tomorrow we’ll dive into the partner news and momentum at WPC, so stay tuned!