Azure on the Horizon

By Nicole Hemsoth

July 13, 2010

The cloud vendor shakedown is now officially in full effect, as was expected following the Microsoft Partner Conference, which was kicked off in Washington, D.C. yesterday. Although there were a few hints about some of Microsoft’s announcements and a slew of other pre-announcement rumors, there can be no questioning that Microsoft is ready to play ball starting with a full-court press from this moment on. Following recent public decisions to dump unprecedented funds into their new mission and ramp up marketing and partnership efforts, it seems that the real strategy is starting to unfold.

The company announced three main pieces of news yesterday, including that a strategic partnership with Dell, who will use the Azure platform appliance, which is a new item that Microsoft announced at the gathering. This appliance will allow Dell (and a select handful of other big name partners) to provide private and public cloud services to its customers. Other ingredients in the partnership include Dell’s agreement to work with Microsoft to develop a Dell-driven Azure platform appliance to serve the needs of some of its enterprise customers to run in their own datacenters.

In a separate but related news item Microsoft released yesterday was the word that they would engage in a similar agreement with HP. Like Dell, HP will work with Microsoft on an Azure platform appliance that will allow enterprise customers to adopt cloud-based appliances and that they will work together to create a package that will make the transition to Windows Azure easier. Customers would then be able to manage the appliance on HP’s Converged Infrastructure either in their own datacenters or in a managed setting from HP.

The third announcement did wonders for Microsoft’s mainstream Azure visibility as they stated eBay would be a partner as they work to better refine their online services. eBay seems in many ways to be the “no-brainer” in this series of announcements since it is a perfect candidate for cloud computing, especially given the natural peaks and valleys in the course of online commerce. The only surprise there was that the company wasn’t already bursting into the cloud using Amazon’s Elastic Compute resource.

While we did see the expected round of new partnerships, many of the announcements that came out of the event were around plans and future goals. It will be interesting to wait and see how these develop and what they mean for not only Azure’s visibility and wider adoption, but for those who are using their services.

If anyone could call the onset of cloud a disruptive technology, it is the folks from Redmond. Microsoft couldn’t possibly sit idly by and watch its tried and true software business come crashing down as droves of customers realize that they can get the same software and more online in a scalable and often pay-per-use fashion. They launched Azure to keep pace, or at least have a hand in the game, and did so without fanfare. Today is actually first time we’re seeing fanfare — and not surprisingly, it’s big.

The company has been audible on the cloud computing front since the launch of its cloud offering less than a year ago, but it wasn’t until this week that news about Azure hit the front pages in a major way. In fact, although it might have been a slow news day for everyone else, it’s fair to say their rainbow of announcements took over the tech news today.

Last week the company laid off a few hundred workers in order to make room for their cloud computing drive forward, although sources say that these layoffs had been planned well before the company’s relatively recent push for the clouds. Nonetheless, the software giant has been anything but mum about its future plans to make itself a player — come hell or high water. The problem is, it really hasn’t been specific or focused on what this thrust is leading up to. The scattered releases and trumped-up technical computing drives have been compelling but not organized. It was, in other words, hard to call Azure a true contender — even though it seemed imminent.

While there has been something of a crescendo as of late with more news than usual leaking out from the Microsoft camp, today’s partner conference kicked it into high gear. There was a string of announcements to usher in the conference, all of which carried household names like Dell, Fujitsu, HP and eBay, making it clear that Microsoft is aiming big as it looks for partners. While it would be a thrill to be a fly on the wall during the financial conversations about these “partnerships” there is, as of now anyway, no information about any of the dollars and cents behind the news.

The two slightly more surprising announcements were from Dell and Fujitsu, both of whom will make solid strategic partners, of course, but in different ways. For instance, Microsoft is working with Dell to deliver cloud-based services for its big name clients whereas its partnership with Fujitsu is much more far-reaching.

The one that we might have seen coming even if it surprised some today, is the partnership with Fujitsu. This bodes particularly well for Microsoft’s desire to maintain a foothold in the Asia and EMEA in general and fits in perfectly with the Japanese company’s goal of expanding its cloud reach. Fujitsu, like Microsoft, has spent considerable ad and marketing dollars making it clear that they plan on being irreplaceable forces in the cloud, but also like Microsoft, the details on how they planned to make it so were sketchy at best. As of yesterday it’s finally clear — partnerships versus being the first, not to mention throwing in a lot of money and new employees to handle the new cloud focus, are the keys to their strategy.

The unofficial word is that Microsoft and Fujitsu have made a preliminary decision to partner for both of their cloud computing goals and will most likely make this announcement official later this week, according to one source. This semi-announcement (it’s not official yet but this is not a surprise) comes directly on the heels of Fujitsu’s president Masami Yamamoto’s statement at the end of last week that the company will be pumping 100 billion yen for this fiscal year into its cloud computing drive — making it the official center of predicted growth of the Japanese firm. In a tip-off about the upcoming news that many predict Yamamoto also said that, “there are two qualifications for companies to be eyed for mergers and acquisitions — one is strong technology and the other is having good customers. In that sense, a software-related firm would be a big target.”

If that wasn’t a clue about who Fujitsu had their eyes on, then I don’t know what is — and it does make perfect sense. This partnership would allow Microsoft to have first stab at Fujitsu’s collection of datacenters and their growing list of customers and Fujitsu would, of course, be set to offer up Azure which, according to the source, would give “Internet-based access to Windows software stored at Fujitsu datacenters.” For its part, Fujitsu is expected to provide cloud platforms at its scattered host of datacenters in markets that have been less cloudy when compared to Microsoft’s home turf, including Australia and Singapore, among others.

Although it’s hard to tell what the rest of the Partner Conference will hold as the week rolls on, this has been something of a coming out party (like in the debutante sense, of course) for Microsoft. Everyone knew that the company wouldn’t be satisfied with just having another cloud offering on par with some of the smaller vendors and it was only a matter of time before they woke up and announced their presence through strategic partnerships — a crucial MO for a company in Microsoft’s position.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Study Identifies Best Practices for Public-Private HPC Engagement

August 22, 2017

What's the best way for HPC centers in the public sphere to engage with private industry partners to boost the competitiveness of the companies and the larger communities? That question is at the heart of a new study pub Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Launches Site to Share its NYC-based Algorithm Research

August 22, 2017

Much of Google’s algorithm development occurs in groups scattered throughout New York City. Yesterday, Google launched a single website - NYC Algorithms and Optimization Team page - to provide a deeper view into all of Read more…

By John Russell

Dell Strikes Reseller Deal with Atos; Supplants SGI

August 22, 2017

Dell EMC and Atos announced a reseller deal today in which Dell will offer Atos’ high-end 8- and 16-socket Bullion servers. Some move from Dell had been expected following Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s purchase of SGI Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Leveraging Deep Learning for Fraud Detection

Advancements in computing technologies and the expanding use of e-commerce platforms have dramatically increased the risk of fraud for financial services companies and their customers. Read more…

Glimpses of Today’s Total Solar Eclipse

August 21, 2017

Here are a few arresting images posted by NASA of today’s total solar eclipse. Such astronomical events have always captured our imagination and it’s not hard to understand why such occurrences were often greeted wit Read more…

By John Russell

Study Identifies Best Practices for Public-Private HPC Engagement

August 22, 2017

What's the best way for HPC centers in the public sphere to engage with private industry partners to boost the competitiveness of the companies and the larger c Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tech Giants Outline Battle Plans for Future HPC Market

August 21, 2017

Four companies engaged in a cage fight for leadership in the emerging HPC market of the 2020s are, despite deep differences in some areas, in violent agreement Read more…

By Doug Black

Microsoft Bolsters Azure With Cloud HPC Deal

August 15, 2017

Microsoft has acquired cloud computing software vendor Cycle Computing in a move designed to bring orchestration tools along with high-end computing access capabilities to the cloud. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Read more…

By George Leopold

HPE Ships Supercomputer to Space Station, Final Destination Mars

August 14, 2017

With a manned mission to Mars on the horizon, the demand for space-based supercomputing is at hand. Today HPE and NASA sent the first off-the-shelf HPC system i Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD EPYC Video Takes Aim at Intel’s Broadwell

August 14, 2017

Let the benchmarking begin. Last week, AMD posted a YouTube video in which one of its EPYC-based systems outperformed a ‘comparable’ Intel Broadwell-based s Read more…

By John Russell

Deep Learning Thrives in Cancer Moonshot

August 8, 2017

The U.S. War on Cancer, certainly a worthy cause, is a collection of programs stretching back more than 40 years and abiding under many banners. The latest is t Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Raises the Bar for Distributed Deep Learning

August 8, 2017

IBM is announcing today an enhancement to its PowerAI software platform aimed at facilitating the practical scaling of AI models on today’s fastest GPUs. Scal Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Storage Breakthrough Paves Way for 330TB Tape Cartridges

August 3, 2017

IBM announced yesterday a new record for magnetic tape storage that it says will keep tape storage density on a Moore's law-like path far into the next decade. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

How ‘Knights Mill’ Gets Its Deep Learning Flops

June 22, 2017

Intel, the subject of much speculation regarding the delayed, rewritten or potentially canceled “Aurora” contract (the Argonne Lab part of the CORAL “ Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia’s Mammoth Volta GPU Aims High for AI, HPC

May 10, 2017

At Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference (GTC17) in San Jose, Calif., this morning, CEO Jensen Huang announced the company's much-anticipated Volta architecture a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Reinders: “AVX-512 May Be a Hidden Gem” in Intel Xeon Scalable Processors

June 29, 2017

Imagine if we could use vector processing on something other than just floating point problems.  Today, GPUs and CPUs work tirelessly to accelerate algorithms Read more…

By James Reinders

Russian Researchers Claim First Quantum-Safe Blockchain

May 25, 2017

The Russian Quantum Center today announced it has overcome the threat of quantum cryptography by creating the first quantum-safe blockchain, securing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, along with classified government communications and other sensitive digital transfers. Read more…

By Doug Black

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Quantum Bits: D-Wave and VW; Google Quantum Lab; IBM Expands Access

March 21, 2017

For a technology that’s usually characterized as far off and in a distant galaxy, quantum computing has been steadily picking up steam. Just how close real-wo Read more…

By John Russell

Groq This: New AI Chips to Give GPUs a Run for Deep Learning Money

April 24, 2017

CPUs and GPUs, move over. Thanks to recent revelations surrounding Google’s new Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), the computing world appears to be on the cusp of Read more…

By Alex Woodie

HPC Compiler Company PathScale Seeks Life Raft

March 23, 2017

HPCwire has learned that HPC compiler company PathScale has fallen on difficult times and is asking the community for help or actively seeking a buyer for its a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

Google Debuts TPU v2 and will Add to Google Cloud

May 25, 2017

Not long after stirring attention in the deep learning/AI community by revealing the details of its Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), Google last week announced the Read more…

By John Russell

Trump Budget Targets NIH, DOE, and EPA; No Mention of NSF

March 16, 2017

President Trump’s proposed U.S. fiscal 2018 budget issued today sharply cuts science spending while bolstering military spending as he promised during the cam Read more…

By John Russell

CPU-based Visualization Positions for Exascale Supercomputing

March 16, 2017

In this contributed perspective piece, Intel’s Jim Jeffers makes the case that CPU-based visualization is now widely adopted and as such is no longer a contrarian view, but is rather an exascale requirement. Read more…

By Jim Jeffers, Principal Engineer and Engineering Leader, Intel

Six Exascale PathForward Vendors Selected; DoE Providing $258M

June 15, 2017

The much-anticipated PathForward awards for hardware R&D in support of the Exascale Computing Project were announced today with six vendors selected – AMD Read more…

By John Russell

Top500 Results: Latest List Trends and What’s in Store

June 19, 2017

Greetings from Frankfurt and the 2017 International Supercomputing Conference where the latest Top500 list has just been revealed. Although there were no major Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Clears Path to 5nm with Silicon Nanosheets

June 5, 2017

Two years since announcing the industry’s first 7nm node test chip, IBM and its research alliance partners GlobalFoundries and Samsung have developed a proces Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Messina Update: The US Path to Exascale in 16 Slides

April 26, 2017

Paul Messina, director of the U.S. Exascale Computing Project, provided a wide-ranging review of ECP’s evolving plans last week at the HPC User Forum. Read more…

By John Russell

Graphcore Readies Launch of 16nm Colossus-IPU Chip

July 20, 2017

A second $30 million funding round for U.K. AI chip developer Graphcore sets up the company to go to market with its “intelligent processing unit” (IPU) in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This