Feeds

Microsoft taps Dell to build Azure cloud

Round Rock containerized?

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Cloud computing means a lot of things to a lot of people these days, but if this catch-phrase-of-the-moment has one goal, it's to make huge numbers of independent servers and related storage to support millions of users in such a way that they neither know nor care about how the underlying iron and its software stack is accomplishing this.

But rest assured, there are plenty of people who care about the underlying hardware, including all the familiar brand names in the server racket as well as a few upstarts who have been trying to play the density game in the data center for several years.

One of the companies that cares about cloud computing, of course, is Dell, which is thrilled to have been picked to be the sole provider of the hardware infrastructure and related data center design services for Microsoft's Azure Services Platform, an alternative to the EC2 cloud computing effort created by Amazon that Microsoft announced this week at its Professional Developer Conference. Azure is a compute and storage cloud for running Windows applications created using Visual Basic and C# and using a modified version of SQL Server for data storage.

To build the Azure data center, Microsoft has engaged Dell's Data Center Solutions division, an independent unit of the company - which has its own research, design, manufacturing, marketing, and sales employees - that was expressly created in the spring of 2006 to chase the cloud computing-Web 2.0-utility computing opportunity. DCS makes custom servers tuned for specific workloads and data center power and cooling envelopes. It does not sell standard PowerEdge iron and PowerVault storage.

According to Forrest Norrod, vice president and general manager of the unit, this small piece of Dell has close to 200 employees and is chasing 30 cloudy customers (including the brass ring called Google). While the DCS unit doesn't break out sales, Norrod says that in the second quarter of 2008, if DCS was broken out as a separate company, it would have ranked among the top five server shippers in the world. At the very least, that is tens of thousands of servers. Ironically, the whole DCS approach is the absolute antithesis of the "standardize and sell direct" approach that put Dell on the map in PCs and made it a player in servers.

According to a Dell spokesperson, the company has won the sole server and storage hardware deal for the Azure platform, and this involves more than a few racks of servers, too. (Exactly how much, Dell is not at liberty to say, and Web 2.0-style companies, as Microsoft is trying to become, get all kinds of nervous about the competitive advantage their data centers give them and don't tend to share the details).

Norrod, in a video interview done by Dell, says the company is supplying Microsoft with the custom server and storage nodes behind Azure, which are located in a data center in Quincy, Washington.

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?
Sysadmins, you're either fighting fires or seen as incompetents now
Microsoft: Azure isn't ready for biz-critical apps … yet
Microsoft will move its own IT to the cloud to avoid $200m server bill
Oracle reveals 32-core, 10 BEEELLION-transistor SPARC M7
New chip scales to 1024 cores, 8192 threads 64 TB RAM, at speeds over 3.6GHz
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
Object storage bods Exablox: RAID is dead, baby. RAID is dead
Bring your own disks to its object appliances
Nimble's latest mutants GORGE themselves on unlucky forerunners
Crossing Sandy Bridges without stopping for breath
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?