Friday, October 31, 2008

Microsoft's Azure has Dell's iron in its Data Centers


Yesterday at the CloudCamp, Microsoft's Belgium Evangelist did show us pics of the Microsoft Data Centers and did admit that it was Dell, they were using in containers, each container packed with 2500 Servers! (and about several hundred containers then).

To build the Azure data center, Microsoft has engaged Dell's Data Center Solutions division, an independent unit of the company - which has its own research, design, manufacturing, marketing, and sales employees - that was expressly created in the spring of 2006 to chase the cloud computing-Web 2.0-utility computing opportunity. DCS makes custom servers tuned for specific workloads and data center power and cooling envelopes. It does not sell standard PowerEdge iron and PowerVault storage.

According to Forrest Norrod, vice president and general manager of the unit, this small piece of Dell has close to 200 employees and is chasing 30 cloudy customers (including the brass ring called Google). While the DCS unit doesn't break out sales, Norrod says that in the second quarter of 2008, if DCS was broken out as a separate company, it would have ranked among the top five server shippers in the world. At the very least, that is tens of thousands of servers. Ironically, the whole DCS approach is the absolute antithesis of the "standardize and sell direct" approach that put Dell on the map in PCs and made it a player in servers.

According to a Dell spokesperson, the company has won the sole server and storage hardware deal for the Azure platform, and this involves more than a few racks of servers, too. (Exactly how much, Dell is not at liberty to say, and Web 2.0-style companies, as Microsoft is trying to become, get all kinds of nervous about the competitive advantage their data centers give them and don't tend to share the details).


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