The Register just broke the news that Microsoft has made significant changes to its internal organization to push even more the emerging Azure platform. The company is in fact preparing to sell a version of Azure, apparently codenamed Project Talisker, that customers and hosting providers can run on-premises:
…Last December Microsoft shifted responsibility Azure’s development, business and marketing into S&T out from under chief software architect Ray Ozzie. Microsoft put development into the newly created server and cloud division with business and marketing joining Kelly’s infrastructure group.
Now, a brace of executives have also shifted to the Windows Azure team to drum up partners and developer adopters. Adam Skewgar and Haris Majeed will "help quickly define the future of the Windows Azure services" while senior director of platform strategy Robert Duffner moves from open source to jump-starting adoption of Azure among ISVs and developers. Duffner’s goal will be to translate his experience from working on ISVs and partners on open source to get adoption and build ubiquity for Azure…
Microsoft may unveil the new product this week at its Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) 2010.
The Register also suggests that the on-premises version of Azure may be sold under an enterprise-based volume license.
Update: Microsoft just confirmed the news, announcing an Azure appliance that will be manufactured, used internally and sold to customers by Dell (announcement), Fujitsu (announcement) and HP (announcement).
eBay will be the fourth early adopter.
Second update: Microsoft published an entire section of its website about the Azure appliance, including a useful FAQ page.
The platform includes Windows Azure, SQL Azure and a Microsoft-specified configuration of network, storage and server hardware. Microsoft claims that it can scale put applications across tens-of-thousands servers.
The hardware will be provided by multiple OEMs, matching reference specifications form network, storage and servers defined by Microsoft. Easy to guess, it is a 64bit platform only.
Microsoft is not offering any roadmap about when the appliance will be available for all customers.
The version of Azure that will ship with the appliance will be able to work as an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud computing platform, which is a feature not yet available on the online version of Azure.
Microsoft also published a 10-minutes video interview with Steve Marx, Technical Strategist, introducing the product.