Microsoft Cloud Platform System, Powered by Dell, is Azure in a Box

Microsoft Cloud Platform System, Powered by Dell, is Azure in a Box

Would you Azure in a box? Would you Azure with a fox?

Say. I could Azure here and there. I could Azure anywhere.

Yesterday, I wrapped up Microsoft's Cloud announcements in a nice little package, but I promised to parse out the announcements one at a time to give you a better understanding of what they might actually mean to you. There were many announcements made a the San Francisco event where Microsoft's Satya Nadella and Scott Guthrie presented a sort of State of the Cloud Union, but probably the biggest revelation (and the one that will have the most immediate impact) was the reveal of the upcoming Microsoft Cloud Platform System, or CPS.

Rumored for many, many months, CPS is a type of Cloud appliance, allowing companies to take Microsoft's Cloud and just drop it into their own datacenters. But, it’s a big bigger in size than the Xbox in your datacenter that I surmised last year.

Originally code-named "San Diego," CPS is a set of pre-assembled racks of servers, supplied, or "powered," by Dell. The servers are preconfigured, running Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, and the Windows Azure Pack. It's taken 18 months from vision to partnering to production, but CPS will be available for purchase on November 3, 2014. Pricing has not yet been announced, but I'd say the cost for something like this will be epic. However, to be able to drop the Microsoft Cloud directly into your operations without much fuss will show a huge savings over time.

Microsoft is confident that CPS will work, basing the architecture off its own public Cloud experiences and designing it to be resilient and to mitigate failure. CPS is

Per Microsoft, the hardware (from Dell) is setup like this:

  • Dell PowerEdge servers, Dell Storage and Dell Networking
  • 512 cores across 32 servers (each with a dual socket Intel Ivy Bridge, E5-2650v2 CPU)
  • 8 TB of RAM with 256 GB per server
  • 282 TB of usable storage
  • 1360 Gb/s of internal rack connectivity
  • 560 Gb/s of inter-rack connectivity
  • Up to 60 Gb/s connectivity to the external world

Microsoft also says that a single rack can support up to 2000 VM’s (2 vCPU, 1.75 GB RAM, and 50 GB disk) and it can scale up to 8000 VM’s using a full stamp with four of the racks.

Microsoft has taken careful steps in designing CPS. Learning from its own missteps (which we've all been privy to), CPS uses the same software that Microsoft uses to run its own public Cloud service and has been tweaked and tooled to guarantee highly available, redundant system.  In addition to having System Center 2012 R2 and Azure Pack preinstalled on top of Windows Server 2012 R2, CPS is configured with security, resiliency, and ease of use in mind.

It comes configured for:

  • Integrated anti-virus
  • Fabric based backup for all VM’s
  • Disaster recovery
  • Orchestrated patching
  • Monitoring
  • Azure-consistent self-service portal with Windows Azure Pack
  • REST-based API for programmatic interaction and automation using PowerShell.
  • PaaS services such as "Websites" and Database-as-a-service

For more information, see the CPS product white paper.

Microsoft's main CPS page is here: Cloud Platform System

Dell's main CPS page is here: Microsoft Cloud Platform System Powered by Dell

Bottom Line

Did Microsoft (and Dell) deliver the "appliance" we were hoping for? Is CPS the Private Cloud hardware we envisioned?

Well, if you go by the definition of the word 'appliance,' I'd say they nailed it:

Appliance: a device or piece of equipment designed to perform a specific task

However, is CPS more than just another set of servers running existing software? Probably not.

When I think of datacenter appliances, I think of Dell KACE or Microsoft's StorSimple hardware. Small, capable, and plug-and-go. CPS is not for everyone, but probably only for those companies with available datacenter space, massive data requirements, and a business roadmap that includes the Cloud. But, if you're a small to medium-sized company, Microsoft already provides your datacenter in the Public Cloud.


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