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Azure cloud computing appliance appeals to VARs

VARs say they like the idea of using Microsoft's new Windows Azure cloud computing appliance in their data centers to provide cloud services to SMB customers.

Systems Channel News Roundup for the week of July 12-16, 2010.

Azure cloud computing appliance attracts VARs; Aurora draws SMBs

Microsoft will not make its new Windows Azure cloud computing appliance available to the general public anytime soon, but many VARs are intrigued by the concept of using the appliance to run Azure cloud computing services in-house.

Microsoft announced the Windows Azure cloud computing appliance at this week's Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Washington, D.C. The first iteration of Azure in a box, as some are now calling the appliance, is meant for large companies that aren't comfortable putting data in a public cloud. But it will be more useful to VARs once it's scaled down for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

"Over time, we will make it both bigger and smaller," Bob Muglia, president of Microsoft's server and tools business, said at the WPC.

The software giant will be working in unison with select hardware partners, including Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Fujitsu, which will sell the Azure cloud computing appliance.

The Azure cloud computing platform went public in February, and Microsoft says that there are currently 10,000 customers using Azure, according to Microsoft did not give details on pricing or a release date for the Azure cloud computing appliance at the WPC.

Because it is not available to SMBs, some are starting to focus their attention on the Microsoft Small Business Server, code-named Aurora. Aurora will be released this summer and serve as a hybrid cloud enabler, letting companies keep some data on premise and put other data in the public cloud.

VMware vSphere 4.1 release gets mixed reaction among users

VSphere 4.1, which VMware Inc. released this week, features updates for enterprise customers and new pricing on some editions.

VSphere 4.1 features an updated I/O Resource Manager (now called Storage and Network I/O Control) that lets administrators set quality-of-service priorities for guests in cases of network or storage I/O contention, according to Another new feature is memory compression, which rids shared memory pages of "white space." But vSphere 4.1 does not update its monitoring and reporting capabilities, which suffer from scalability and customization constraints, according to some users.

With this new release, VMware also added its VMotion live migration feature to the Essentials Plus and Standard editions of vSphere. (It was previously available in only Advanced and higher editions.) But those users will have to pay more for VMotion; the price for Essentials Plus is going up from $2,995 to $3,495 for three hosts, and the price for Standard is increasing from $795 to $995 per processor. Many small organizations say Microsoft has the upper hand, because its Live Migration feature is free in Hyper-V.

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