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Microsoft: HP, eBay polishing Azure cloud-in-a-box (honest)

Deadlines reset, evaluations ongoing

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WPC 2010 A year after they were announced and six months after they were to be delivered, Microsoft has offered a fleeting glimpse of its Windows Azure cloud-in-a-box appliance parnerships with HP and eBay.

At its Worldwide Partners Conference (WPC) in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Microsoft said that HP has a Windows Azure appliance running in its data center, that it has been validated by Microsoft, and that HP "looks forward" to making services available to customers "later this year".

The PC and server maker intends to offer both private and public cloud services on Windows Azure, according to Microsoft.

eBay's progress and commitment looks a little less firm than that of HP. Microsoft said that eBay is "in the early stages of implementing on the Windows Azure platform appliance."

A year after eBay was named as a Windows Azure appliance partner by Microsoft along with HP, Dell, and Fujitsu, the online auction shop has completed a grand total of just one single application on Windows Azure: ipad.ebay.com.

eBay is "continuing to evaluate ways in which the Windows Azure platform appliance can help improve engineering agility and reduce operating costs," Microsoft said.

Tuesday's announcements were the second time this year that Microsoft has gone on the offense to "prove" that the Windows Azure appliance strategy is actually happening and hasn't fizzled.

One year ago, also at WPC, Microsoft named Dell, HP, Fujitsu, and eBay as early adopters of what it said was a "limited production" release of the planned Windows Azure appliance. The plan was for the first Windows Azure appliance to appear later in 2010, with companies building and running services before the end of that year.

Dell, HP, and Fujitsu would become service providers by hosting services for their customers running on Azure. They may also help Microsoft design, develop, and deploy the appliances to others.

Since then, not only have the target dates been missed by Microsoft's quartet without any explanations, but all the companies have been shy about saying what's going on – or even if they remained committed to Microsoft's cloud-in-a-box.

HP CEO Léo Apotheker, when asked by The Reg this March whether the planned cloud services that he was announcing would run on Azure, would neither confirm nor recommit.

Dell, speaking separately in March, said it planned to offer at least two public clouds, one based on Windows Azure but the other on something else that it would not detail. Fujitsu and Microsoft in June announced that Fujitsu's Global Cloud Platform, based on Azure, would launch in August. The services as been in beta testing with at laest twenty companies since April. ®

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