Microsoft has teamed up with HP, Dell and Fujitsu to develop certified, optimised hardware platforms to deliver Azure cloud-based applications from their own or their customers' datacentres. Electronic retailer eBay will use Azure to power a number of applications from its website.
Microsoft's director of product management in the Windows server division Mike Schutz told Computer Weekly that this was Microsoft saying: "You can have the cloud any way you want it".
However, he was unclear precisely what licensing regime would operate with respect to the Azure versions of Windows and SQL that are core to the deal. "We're still working out the details with our partners," he said.
Schutz declined to comment on what this move would do to the average revenue per user (ARPU) that Microsoft enjoys. Earlier the software firm's Europe chairman Jan Mühlfeit said cloud would reduce Microsoft's ARPU, but both he and Schutz said cloud also opened up new markets.
People would still be able to buy a perpetual licence, Schutz said, but cloud allowed Microsoft to reach many more small businesses and remote branch offices previously beyond its reach.
Schutz said Microsoft would make available its knowledge of running Azure in its own datacentres to the three hardware makers. This would help them develop suitable hardware platforms.
The hardware that would run from their (or customers') datacentres would be the same that Microsoft ran in its own datacentres, he said. He said Microsoft used a number of different hardware suppliers in its datacentres, and was open to talks with other hardware makers to develop Azure appliances, but declined to name them.
Schutz said users could now pick the exact style of cloud computing they preferred: private, public or hosted, with the extra choice of hardware platform. This was about providing infrastructure and software as services, he said.
He added that Fujitsu, Dell and HP would develop their own applications on top of the Azure platform. These would form part of their own cloud offerings, he said.
Fujitsu planned to launch its optimised Azure service in Japan later this year. A UK release date is still pending.