Dell Joins Microsoft CSP Wagon and Unveils New Azure Appliance

Dell on Wednesday announced it is joining the fast-growing Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program, as well as unveiled an expansion of its year-old Microsoft Cloud Platform System (CPS).

CSP partners have the ability to bundle Microsoft cloud services with their own offerings and work directly with customers on the billing and support, rather than going through Microsoft. As a CSP, Dell will offer customers consultation and deployment services involving "the full portfolio of Microsoft cloud including Office 365, Enterprise Mobility and Azure," according to a Microsoft blog.

Dell also announced the launch of a new "hybrid cloud appliance" that aims to extend its current CPS offering beyond service providers and large enterprises to mainstream datacenters.

CPS promises to provide the same functionality as the Microsoft Azure public cloud but brings it on-premises, allowing for hybrid or private clouds based on the same infrastructure. The initial CPS Premium edition is very large and out of reach for all but the largest datacenters. However, the new CPS Standard edition unveiled Wednesday will be available in a single, rack-based converged system running as few as 100 virtual machines (VMs).

The new edition was unveiled by Dell Founder and CEO Michael Dell and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at the opening keynote of the Dell World conference, taking place this week in Austin, Texas.

"We've had a very successful launch of the premium Cloud Platform System and now we're going to democratize it and make it more accessible to every business, any size, by bringing a standard edition," Nadella said. "This really brings hybrid computing to everyone. The combination of the work that we're doing between Azure and CPS, I think, is the way to deliver hybrid computing and its future for our customers."

Dell says the CPS Standard edition can be deployed in as little as three hours. Updates and patching are handled automatically for customers.

This new configuration is intended for workloads consisting of 100 to 400 VMs, and is a turnkey system consisting of a compute 2U rack loaded with Dell's PowerEdge C6320 server. Networking and storage designed using Microsoft's Storage Spaces are available with hard disk drives and SSDs. It's run with Dell Cloud Manager.

For now, Dell is the only provider of the Azure cloud in a single rack, though companies can build their own version of Azure in Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center and the Windows Azure Pack. Doing so is expected to become easier next year when Microsoft delivers Windows Server 2016 and the new Azure Stack, which Microsoft has said will bring more complete Azure functionality using the same portal interface than the current Windows Azure Pack. Those deploying the new CPS Standard before the release of Azure Stack will be able to add on that new capability when it becomes generally available.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.


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