Microsoft unveiled Windows Azure Platform Appliance, which brings Windows Azure's cloud-development platform into a company's individual data center, at the WPC 2010. Executives also gave more information on cloud-based program "Dallas."
executives took the stage here July 12, on the first morning of the company's
Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), to
promote a vision of the IT giant as robust despite a shaky economy and rapidly
changing tech landscape. As part of that, the company announced Windows Azure
Platform Appliance, a service that brings Windows Azure's cloud-development
capabilities to a company's data center, and more concrete information on
"Dallas," which pulls together enterprise and cloud data in a way that allows
companies to make more informed decisions.
The nearly weeklong WPC is a chance for
Microsoft to tout the benefits of the company's partner network, and offer
those 9,500 partners a wide variety of events such as hands-on labs. Each day
starts with a high-profile keynote in the city's Verizon
Bob Muglia, president of Microsoft's Server & Tools Business, took the
stage to announce Windows Azure Platform Appliance, yet another initiative in
the company's overarching attempt to move into the cloud space. The
Appliance is an offshoot of Windows Azure, which Muglia described as a
"general-purpose cloud platform" loaded with a broad set of capabilities,
allowing developers to create applications.
"It's important for our partners to build their own public and private
clouds, within their own data center," Muglia told the audience. "Today, I'm
proud to announce the introduction of the Windows Azure Platform Appliance.
Fundamentally, it takes the Windows Azure service and extends it, allowing you
to run its exact same capability in your data centers."
Muglia took pains to highlight the service nature of the offering. "It's a
service coming from Microsoft and run in your own data center ... that you then
run on hardware you own or have rented within our own data center," he said.
"Our plan is to make all Azure capabilities able to run within the appliance."
The best analogy, Muglia added, is a set-top box for cable or satellite
television. "When you have your television, you are getting a service through
your television provider," he said. "You turn on the TV and it works. But you
control which channels you want to watch, and so on. That's exactly what we're
doing with the Windows Azure client."
The Windows Azure Platform Applications will roll out later in 2010, Muglia
said, but he did not offer a more specific timeframe.
also offered the audience more details on another cloud-based program, code-named
"Dallas," which he called an "information marketplace" for enterprise and
Web data. Commercial availability is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2010.
Users logged into the "Dallas"
dashboard can browse for either public data-such as a United Nations
demographic data set-or private data uploaded into the system. The application
is capable of drilling into a data set, displaying details such as data-column
In addition to being able to provision data as a service, "Dallas"
lets users apply analytical tools to that data; a few clicks can load programs
such as Powerpivot Integration or Tableau Integration, which in turn can be
used to manipulate the necessary data points. Once a data set has been worked
on, it can be shared with either the wider world-via embedding HTML code into a
blog or Webpage-or more privately, via e-mail.
"Dallas," along with Windows
Azure, represents Microsoft's attempt to create a competitive differentiator in
the cloud space-where it faces companies such as Salesfore.com in the
software-as-a-service arena, and Amazon.com with infrastructure-as-a-service.
Microsoft's counterclaim, as Muglia insisted onstage, is that it will provide a
more holistic solution for companies-what he called "IT as a service."
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.