In part 6 of my “Cloudy April” series we talked about the PaaS solution from Microsoft, Windows Azure. And more and more companies are realizing the benefits of building applications that can run on stateless, easily scalable machine instances that are quickly deployed or decommissioned as the demand on their applications changes. Also, the benefit of high-availability that just simply works.. and the automation of load balancing and storage and… you get the idea.
And even though one of the great benefits of Windows Azure is the ability to run even portions of your application in “the cloud” and leave others in your own datacenter (using technologies like Windows Azure Connect), some companies still want (or are required) to run their applications entirely in their own datacenter. In a large company it’s not uncommon to have dozens or even hundreds of purely internal applications, and the groups developing and supporting those applications could easily benefit from a PaaS solution for their own businesses.
Yes. Well… almost. Right now you really only have one option.. but there is another currently in the works, and I’ll get to that shortly. Right now your option is to build and support your own IaaS “cloud”, using the Self Service Portal 2.0 on top of SCVMM. It’s not Windows Azure.. and it’s not PaaS, so there is still some upkeep of the virtualized OS that you’ll have to support (a situation that will improve greatly with SCVMM 2012 – currently in beta). But the Hyper-V Cloud does allow the datacenter to provide IT-as-a-Service nicely.
“But I want to run Windows Azure! I want it in my own datacenter! I want it now!”
Sorry, Veruca, you can’t have it now. At least not if you’re not already running it as one of our first testers.
The solution that is forthcoming, and that a few customers are testing for us right now, is something called the Windows Azure 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.”
(Quote from the Windows Azure Appliance FAQ.)
“So is it really an appliance? Is it a big box?”
No, not really. The final form-factor hasn’t been announced, but it’s being called an appliance because it’s an all-or-nothing purchase of specific server hardware (or a choice from a very small set of vendors) that meets the strict requirements of running Windows Azure and SQL Azure in your own datacenter. It’s a “turn-key cloud solution on highly standardized, preconfigured hardware”. The server, storage and networking hardware is all going to be pre-configured and installed as a group.
Find out more on the Windows Azure Appliance page here: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsazure/appliance/
Is your company interested in running Windows Azure on-premises? Could you see other benefits (or drawbacks) to running your own Platform-as-a-Service in-house? Leave us a comment here and let’s discuss it.
Tomorrow in Part 24 (wow.. only a few days left!) we’ll be talking about tools for developing your cloudy applications.