Microsoft seeks to stem Azure exodus with huge appliance

How big is an appliance, anyway?

Before today, a refrigerator is probably the largest appliance you or I have encountered.  But today, Microsoft announced an Azure appliance that consists of hundreds of servers — a “cloud-in-a-box” that is managed by Microsoft but hosted in a customer datacenter.

Why would Microsoft go through the trouble of creating and managing numerous miniature Azures?  One possible explanation is that customers are trying the proprietary platform to see what the fuss is all about, but not sticking with it — kind of like garlic ice cream at the Gilroy Garlic Festival.  It could just be that Azure is not taking off as everyone imagined.

Customers leaving Azure in droves?

I recently acquired an email from Microsoft, desperately seeking to address an apparent exodus of customers from Windows Azure:

My team is working to understand why some of our valued customers have stopped using their Windows Azure platform subscription(s). I am emailing today to ask you to complete a short survey on why you have stopped using our service.

We will use this information to improve our platform and address issues that may have led you to stop using your subscription. We take your feedback seriously and it will lead to direct action.

Whatever the reason for this sudden shift may be, the most succinct take on the announcement goes to Om Malik, who concluded in this GigaOM article:

Microsoft, it seems, is merely following what is en vogue these days.

Interesting strategy shift:  If customers won’t come to your proprietary platform, see if you can trap them inside a box right in their own own datacenter.  Cloud computing at its finest.

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  1. tonyr’s avatar

    The appliance and the letter have no relationship, if you’d bother to read up on things.

    1. Eric Gray’s avatar

      I would argue that the relationship is quite clear: Azure public cloud has not taken off as expected.

      After six months in production, Azure has 10,000 customers. The articles I have seen that mention this are not applauding the adoption rate of Azure – they are questioning the viability of proprietary platform as a service offerings.

      The Azure appliance is a reactive response. If this had been on the roadmap all along, it would have been in the press and in Microsoft’s marketing materials much earlier.

    2. tonyr’s avatar

      The reality is that if you need one of these things you’re not a small unsophisticated IT operation and more then likely you’ll have classified/competitive info which will never be in the cloud. So microsoft see this reality and creates a product for it, go figure.

      1. beb4vm’s avatar

        But why does MS have two separate products for virtualization?? If you are a large, sophisticated IT operation, why is Hyper-V not the right choice for your private cloud? Does it not perform to the level that is needed in this case? That would make me question why I would use it at all. What if I need capacity on demand outside of my own datacenter only at certain times of the year? Can’t use Hyper-V in this case either.

        1. tonyr’s avatar

          wtf does hyper-v have to do with this? Azure is not a replacement for hyper-v it has nothing to do with it. I’m sure you’ll have a hard time understanding that.

        2. tonyr’s avatar

          now look at what google just did an almost private cloud platform! hmm looks like MS slightly beat them to the punch.

        3. Michael H’s avatar

          Hey Eric! Nice to see you showing some love for Gilroy!

          1. Eric Gray’s avatar

            Couldn’t resist.

          2. Jose Maria Gonzalez’s avatar

            Hi Eric,

            Excellent stuff, much appreciated Eric,

            Just out of curiosity, how did this email got into your mailbox? 😉


            Jose Maria Gonzalez from El blog de Virtualizacion en Español

            1. Eric Gray’s avatar

              Thanks, Jose. Protecting the confidentiality of my sources is best for everyone. 🙂

              1. Jose Maria Gonzalez’s avatar

                Hi Eric,

                Nice answer and polite 😉 I like it already.

                Eric, do you have any data on marketshare for Azure that you can share with us?

                I would be very interested to know what it is look like .vs other vendors.

                Thanking you in advance,

                Jose Maria Gonzalez from El blog de Virtualizacion en Español

                1. Eric Gray’s avatar

                  It’s a nascent market — very few PaaS providers and customers at this point.

                  I suspect Azure has very high market share among closed, proprietary, .NET-based platform-as-a-service public clouds. Perhaps close to 100%.

                  1. Jose Maria Gonzalez’s avatar

                    Great stuff Eric, much appreciated.

                    Jose Maria Gonzalez from El blog de Virtualizacion en Español

                  2. tonyr’s avatar

                    Also Eric since your a vmware employee tell me what vmware has to offer in the cloud space and don’t say vsphere we use it quite extensively and I don’t see anything that resembles the capabilities in azure private or not.

                    1. Lalit’s avatar

                      No, Eric wont answer your question. He has not answer for that 🙂

                      1. Eric Gray’s avatar

                        Tony, do you actually use Azure or do you just find the concept appealing?

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