Dell says its Data Center Solutions division is providing the server and storage hardware powering Windows Azure, Microsoft’s cloud services platform. Dell says it has developed "highly-customized server platforms for Microsoft tailored to their physical facility, operating processes and application workload." The deal appears to position Dell to grow along with the Azure platform, which will host Microsoft services and third-party apps built by developers. Azure will be released next year and compete with cloud platforms from Amazon and Google.
Azure is currently running only in Microsoft's data center in Quincy, Washington (Cnet). Since the Quincy facility is a traditional raised floor data center, Dell's role doesn't necessarily resolve the question of which hardware vendor will support the Windows cloud buildout next year when the platform shifts to data center containers in Microsoft's mammoth new facility in Chicago. Microsoft is known to have tested container solutions from Verari and Rackable (RACK) as well as Dell.
Dell has been touting its gains in cloud computing, which has become a major focus of server vendors chasing high-volume deals with customers building cloud computing and HPC infrastructure. Rackable and Verari were early specialists in this niche, while IBM, Dell and HP have recently introduced servers tailored for "scale out" cloud platforms.
“Hyper-scale computing environments – where infrastructure deployments are measured by up to millions of servers, storage and networking equipment – are changing the way organizations are thinking about their data center requirements,” said Brad Anderson, senior vice president, Dell’s Business Product Group.
Forrest Norrod, vice president and general manager of Dell’s Data Center Solutions Division, offers additional information on Dell's support for Windows Azure in this video from Dell's In The Clouds blog, which runs about 5 minutes.