Microsoft seems to be becoming pretty comfortable as a hardware manufacturer. Xbox, Lumia, Surface, all have Microsoft's most recent hardware stamp. The company has provided additional examples over the years (hint: Zune), but those are the most recent and most recognizable.
Back in 2013, I surmised that Microsoft would eventually deliver a Clouditized hardware appliance. At that time, I likened the device to an Xbox One running Private Cloud software. One commenter suggested that the idea was rather silly. To me, it was just the natural progression of things. So today, it's quite interesting to hear Mary Jo reinvigorate my predictions with a report about Microsoft's plans to deliver a self-contained, self-manufactured, Private Cloud appliance based on Microsoft Azure.
Mary Jo reports that the new devices will be preconfigured appliances, ordered directly from Microsoft, and provided for partners and large enterprise customers. The appliances will bring much of the value that exists in Azure, including compute, network, and storage, to the local datacenter.
Building a Cloud in the local datacenter takes time that many IT Pros simply don't have, yet there's a lot of value and cost savings in running the datacenter on the precepts of Cloud processes. For those IT folks who are already tasked with daily work and short and long term projects, a preconfigured appliance will allow them to transform operations with a single purchase. If done right, Microsoft could see great success with this new direction.
Many still consider the Cloud to be a place, or a piece of hardware sitting out there somewhere. And, that's simply not the case. Microsoft's intent to provide an Azure appliance proves that the Cloud can exist anywhere you choose. The true definition of the Cloud is: a highly virtualized, hardware consolidated, optimized, cost efficient, automated, and fully managed datacenter.
If you're unfamiliar with what the Cloud really is and the value it can provide to your intern organization, I have a 5-part series running on American City & County right now so you can. Parts 1 and 2 are already published and part 3 should be available at the end of this week.
Get started with Part 1: The Truth about the Cloud