In the world of Windows Azure there is a major misconception that the Windows Azure Platform Appliance announced at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference (WWPC) in July is Microsoft’s answer to having your own Private Cloud. This is not correct.
The appliance, as announced at WWPC, is a turn-key cloud solution based on highly standardized, preconfigured hardware. Think of it as hundreds of servers in pre-configured racks of networking, storage, and server hardware that are based on a Microsoft-specified reference architecture.
It is a turnkey cloud platform that customers can deploy in their own datacenter, across hundreds to thousands of servers. The Windows Azure platform appliance consists of Windows Azure, SQL Azure and a Microsoft-specified configuration of network, storage and server hardware. This hardware will be delivered by a variety of partners.
The appliance is designed for service providers, large enterprises and governments and provides a proven cloud platform that delivers breakthrough datacenter efficiency through innovative power, cooling and automation technologies.
The emphasis (in yellow) is mine. The point that I am making here is that the appliance is only for the very large. If you buy servers in blocks of hundreds or thousands it may be for you. Otherwise not. For instance the first beta customers for the appliance are eBay, Dell, Fujitsu and HP who intend to deploy the appliance in their datacenters to offer new cloud services.
For the rest of us there is a Private Cloud Solution, and surprise, it has been mostly available to us all along. Built on the existing Microsoft Windows Server Platform and based on Microsoft’s virtualization technology, Hyper-V Cloud, is that solution. I have blogged about this in a few other posts here, here and here so I will not go into it in detail in this post. But please do read those posts for an overview.