Microsoft and Dell Team Up for Cloud-in-a-Box Systems

By Pedro Hernandez  |  Posted 2014-10-21 Print this article Print
Microsoft and Dell cloud offering

On Nov. 3, Dell will begin shipping Microsoft Cloud Platform System integrated hardware that enables customers to float their own clouds.

Microsoft's cloud-in-a-box solution is nearing release with help from Round Rock, Texas-based server maker Dell.

Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise group, took to the stage in San Francisco on Oct. 20 to announce a bevy of updates to the Azure cloud computing ecosystem. Nestled among new virtual machine sizes and a premium cloud storage offering was the Microsoft Cloud Platform System (CPS), an Azure-compatible system available beginning Nov. 3 from Dell.

Sam Greenblatt, chief technology evangelist at Dell Enterprise Solution Group, explained that the solution "is pre-validated, ready-to-run, Azure-consistent cloud infrastructure delivered to the data center," in an Oct. 20 statement. "With CPS, a large-scale, validated cloud platform is at your fingertips."

CPS (codenamed San Diego) is the culmination of an 18-month effort to bring Microsoft's experience in deploying and operating cloud IT infrastructures to customer data centers. Further delving under the hood, Microsoft's CPS team blogged that the offering "is a pre-integrated, pre-deployed, Microsoft validated solution built on Dell hardware, Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2 and Windows Azure Pack."

"CPS scales from a single rack to up to four racks and is optimized for infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS for Windows and Linux) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) style deployments," continued the Microsoft staffers.

Customers can deploy CPS in setups of one to four racks. According to Microsoft, each rack consists of the following:

--CPU: 512 cores across 32 servers, each with a dual-socket Intel "Ivy Bridge" Xeon E5-2650v2 processor;

--Memory: 8TB of RAM (256GB per server);

--Storage: 282TB (usable);

--Internal networking: 1,360G bps;

--Inter-rack networking: 560G bps; and

--External connectivity: Up to 60G bps.

According to Microsoft's estimates, a single CPS rack can support up to 2,000 virtual machines (VMs), each consuming two virtual CPUs, 1.75GB of RAM and 50GB of disk space. Revealing that the solution is already up and running in "private preview deployments," Microsoft's CPS team said customers can "scale up to 8,000 VMs using a full stamp with four of these racks," although customers can tweak their VM dimensions to suit their needs.

CPS contains practically all the components required to deploy cloud services under a familiar IT management environment, particularly for Microsoft shops. The product's software foundation is based on Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2 and Windows Azure Pack.

Other perks include "integrated antivirus, fabric-based backup for all VM's, disaster recovery, orchestrated patching, monitoring, an Azure-consistent self-service portal (Windows Azure Pack) for tenants, REST-based API for programmatic interaction and automation using PowerShell," added the company.

CPS reduces complexity in scalable cloud environments, Greenblatt said. "Because CPS is validated and preconfigured, it enables customers to standardize on a consistent infrastructure and automation model—even across data centers—which enhances agility and business responsiveness," he wrote.

The hardware itself is up to the challenge, said Microsoft. The company claims to have worked closely with Dell and component makers to ensure reliability and software compatibility. CPS was subjected to "some of the most rigorous testing that our engineers can produce," according to Microsoft.


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