Microsoft expanded its cloud offerings today, answering the call for “private cloud.”
Our strategy is to provide the full range of cloud capabilities in both public and private clouds.
After today’s announcements, Microsoft has at least three cloud options for you: a public cloud that’s mostly a platform as a service (Azure), a private cloud in limited release (Windows Azure Appliance), and an outline for building a private infrastructure as a service cloud (“Private Cloud Deployment Kit”).
This is all notable as Microsoft has, until now, really only been know for the first, Azure, which provides a bundle of services for developing applications in several programming languages. Azure remains the only one of these clouds that’s widely, if not generally available.
I’m a bit unclear the “Private Cloud Deployment Kit,” and so far there’s not enough Google juice on whatever solid pages are up to find anything. While there’s a whole slew of .docx’s and .pptx’s on a Microsoft cloud site, the “solution” nature makes narrowing down a specific offering a bit, well, enterprise-y. Which is surprising coming from Microsoft who’s usually very good at not being so.
Evaluating Private Clouds
For private cloud, saving money is your main concern because you’re still worrying about everything.
For the newly announced Windows Azure Appliance, Microsoft is pairing its Azure software offerings with three hardware partners: Dell, HP, and Fujitsu. While they don’t call it a “private beta,” the “limited production release” makes it effectively so, in the Web 2.0 sense at least. This means you’ll need a special relationship with Microsoft (or one of it’s partners) to get Windows Azure Appliance.
Would it be worth it? It’s difficult to tell yet. Once the pricing and final specs are out, you could conceivably compare it to other offerings. For a private cloud, the only thing that really matters is pricing and TCO.
With a private cloud you’re still: managing your cloud, paying for and do any geographic dispersal (and manage the on-the-ground government hijinks there), going to be stuck on upgrade cycles getting hung up on your own fears about upgrading versus staying with what works….
In summary, with a private cloud you’re not getting the advantages of having someone else run the cloud infrastructure.
Clearly, if a private cloud is better than some calcified mess you’re in, then sure. But, the question at the back of your mind should always be: why not make it public cloud? I’m pretty sure there’ll be many legit reasons for several years to come – but things are murky at this point – maybe if you come up against them, you could share them and we could start cutting through the fog.
Nicely, Microsoft’s cloud-based desktop management offering Intune is good context here. Imagine if running all that desktop management infrastructure was no longer your concern. Intune is gated for just small businesses at the moment, but it’s clearly something that’d be appealing to enterprises.