Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Windows Azure Platform Appliance (WAPA) Finally Emerges from the Skunk Works

The Windows Azure Team posted JUST ANNOUNCED: Fujitsu Launches Global Cloud Platform Service Powered by Windows Azure on 6/7/2011 at 8:15 AM PDT:

image Today Fujitsu and Microsoft announced the first release of Fujitsu’s Global Cloud Platform service (“FGCP/A5”), powered by Windows Azure and running in Fujitsu’s datacenter in Japan. This service, which Fujitsu has been offering in Japan on a trial basis to twenty companies since April 21, will launch officially in August. This launch is significant because it marks the first official production release of the Windows Azure platform appliance by Fujitsu. FGCP/A5 will enable customers to quickly build elastically scalable applications using familiar Windows Azure platform technologies that will allow them to streamline their IT operations management and  compete more effectively globally.

image Geared towards a wide variety of customers, FGCP/A5 consists of Windows Azure compute and storage, SQL Azure, and Windows Azure AppFabric technologies, with additional services covering application development and migration, real-time operations and support.

image This announcement follows the global strategic partnership on the Windows Azure platform appliance between Fujitsu and Microsoft that was announced at the Worldwide Partner Conference in July 2010. The partnership allows Fujitsu to work alongside Microsoft providing services to enable, deliver and manage solutions built on the Windows Azure platform.

Click here to read the full press release.

OK, so where are HP’s and Dell’s WAPA announcements?

It appears to me that this is the “first official production release of the Windows Azure platform appliance by” anyone.

I wonder who was picked for this WAPA Product Manager, Senior Job in Redmond (posted 5/30/2011.)

Question: Was the timing of the Microsoft/Fujitsu press release influenced by Paul Maritz’ interview by IDG Enterprise Chief Content Officer John Gallant and Eric Knorr, “when he talked about the 1,000 or so public cloud service providers that are running the VMware stack”?

Eric Knorr [pictured below] asserted “In an exclusive interview, VMware CEO Paul Maritz talks about an elite group of providers that will offer VMware infrastructure for hybrid enterprise clouds” in a deck for his Is there a new, monster VMware cloud coming? article of 6/7/2011 for InfoWorld’s Cloud Computing blog:

image In most cases, a public cloud service will charge more to host your infrastructure long term than it would cost you to purchase and maintain that infrastructure yourself. By the same token, though, you don't want to buy and babysit infrastructure you need only part of the time.

imageThat's one of the main ideas behind the hybrid cloud: Build and operate a private cloud in your own data center and burst to a service that charges by the hour when you need it.

imageBut you should be able to do that seamlessly -- and you have to trust the provider. That's why I was struck by what VMware CEO Paul Maritz said in a recent interview with IDG Enterprise Chief Content Office John Gallant and me, when he talked about the 1,000 or so public cloud service providers that are running the VMware stack:

Within that community, what we've elected to do is to try and pick a very small subset of [providers] who are committed to have the same suite in their public clouds. So in particular that user interface is going to be common between the two. The way that you describe and secure and manage your workloads will look the same internally versus externally.

In other words, VMware has cultivated an elite group of providers that is offering VMware-based infrastructure as a service to customers. VMware has close to 80 percent market share for a reason (see the InfoWorld Test Center's recent virtualization shoot-out for details). So in the hybrid cloud model, it should be reasonably seamless for a customer that has standardized on VMware to burst to a public cloud provider that offers VMware infrastructure as a service and manage it all as a whole. When I asked Maritz whether this was the general idea, he responded: "That's exactly what we're trying to do." …

Read more: 2, next page ›

imageNote: Cade Metz reported in page 4, titled “An open source project in Google clothing,” of his App Engine: Google's deepest secrets as a service analysis (subtitled “The software scales. But will the Google rulebook?”) of 6/7/2011 for The Register:

image If the world is to run App Engine applications outside of App Engine, projects like this are the only option. [Google’s] Sean Lynch makes it clear that Google has no intention of offering its own "on-premise" version of App Engine, seeing limited value in platforms such as App Scale. "They may make deployment internally easier. You may be able to the same tool integration to get an app up and running," he says. "But there's still someone who's doing resource budgeting and making sure you have a capacity plan for the next year, worrying about versions and operating systems. If there's someone still worrying about that, you're not getting the benefit of a cloud-based platform-as-a-service." [Emphasis added.]

From the WAPA FAQ:

Windows Azure platform appliance

  1. What is Windows Azure platform appliance?

      Windows Azure platform appliance consists of Windows Azure, SQL Azure and a Microsoft-specified configuration of network, storage and server hardware. It is a turnkey cloud platform you can deploy in your datacenter. 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 .

  2. 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.

  3. 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. Microsoft has 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. This hardware is based on industry-standard x64 hardware in order for customers to be able to purchase the appliance from a choice of partners.

  4. When will Microsoft Windows Azure platform appliance ship?

      Today we announced the Limited Production Release of the Windows Azure platform appliance to a small set of customers and partners. We will develop our roadmap depending on what we learn from this set of customers and partners. We have no additional details at this time.

  5. What is the difference between Windows Azure platform running in Microsoft’s datacenter and Windows Azure platform appliance?

      Microsoft offers the Windows Azure platform as a fully managed service in Microsoft’s datacenter. Microsoft manages the entire platform including hardware and day-to-day operations. The appliance allows customers and partners to deploy the Windows Azure platform in their own datacenter which some customers and partners have requested because of their need to for physical control, data sovereignty and regulatory compliance as well as geographic proximity. Microsoft will, however, continue to provide updates to the Windows Azure platform service running on the appliance, just as we currently manage updates to more than 750 million individual PCs worldwide running Windows update.

  6. How is Microsoft Windows Azure platform appliance different from running a datacenter with Windows Server, Hyper-V and System Center?

      The Microsoft Windows Azure platform appliance allows customers and partners to deploy Windows Azure and SQL Azure in their own datacenters.. The appliance is a turnkey cloud platform that runs on hundreds to thousands of servers optimized to deliver hosting services and massive scale-out applications, PaaS, SaaS, IaaS or high performance computing. Windows Server, Hyper-V and System Center is a versatile, customizable server platform that allows customers and partners to build and run a dynamic, virtualized infrastructure and private clouds.

  7. Why call it an appliance? Isn’t it bigger?

      You can think of it as an appliance because it is a turn-key cloud solution on highly standardized, preconfigured hardware. Think of it as hundreds of servers in pre-configured racks of networking, storage, and server hardware. We intentionally are using the term appliance to convey that the Microsoft Windows Azure platform appliance consists of highly-specified networking, storage, and server hardware that is pre-configured. The Windows Azure platform appliance is similar to typical server appliances in that it is designed to be easy-to-use, the hardware will be locked down, and the platform software is typically updated by the vendor.

  8. When will the appliance be available?

      We are still evaluating timeline, partner and customer requirements. Please return to this site for further updates.