From http://www.microsoft.com/windowsazure/appliance/ I learned that service providers, large enterprises and governments can deploy the Windows Azure Platform Appliance in their own datacenters and that the Windows Azure Platform Appliance consists of Windows Azure, SQL Azure and a Microsoft-specified configuration of network, storage and server hardware (it is not an ‘appliance’ per se).
“Windows Azure” in this context refers to Microsoft’s cloud Operating System, the cloud Operating System that also powers Microsoft’s public cloud and runs inside those Microsft datacenters that exist solely to offer public cloud services.
Thus, we already have the Windows Azure cloud Operating system powering Microsoft’s public cloud offering. Now, with the availability of the Windows Azure Platform Appliance, we will also have the Windows Azure cloud Operating system powering some establishments’ private and public clouds.
Of course, the Windows Azure Platform Appliance is a needed product, since service providers, large enterprises and governments may need to implement their own private clouds or public cloud offerings. This way, their private and public clouds will have the same specifications and abilities as Microsoft’s own public cloud, and I would recommend that every provider, goverment and institution should at least consider the Windows Azure Platform Appliance as a cloud implementation solution.
But some service providers misuse (exploit perhaps?) the term “Azure” that exists in the name “Windows Azure Platform Appliance”. They plan to implement the Windows Azure Platform Appliance and they announce that they will provide “Azure”. That may be correct, but the customer may not realize that her data and her workload will not be on Microsoft’s public cloud, but on the provider’s datacenter.
In my opinion, the customer should always have clear information about such matters.
So, beware not only of Greeks bearing gifts, but also of third party providers offering “Azure”. Always have a clear idea of where your data will be and where your workload will run onto.
Let us hope that Microsoft will come up with a naming scheme that separates its own public cloud from the private and public clouds that service providers implement and that are also powered by the Windows Azure cloud Operating System.