With new servers, regions and an appliance, Microsoft kicks off another battle in cloud wars

In case things were unclear, Microsoft’s latest Azure moves — including big freaking cloud servers, a Dell-based appliance to facilitate hybrid Azure clouds and new regional coverage in Australia — the public cloud battle has moved well beyond price cuts.

In a phone interview after Monday’s event, Microsoft EVP Scott Guthrie, said Azure’s new G instances are bigger and beefier than what Amazon or Google offer. And Azure’s roll-out in Australia — to come online next week — brings total Azure cloud regions to 19 worldwide, twice as many as Amazon and six times as many as Google, he said.

[company]Microsoft[/company], unlike [company]Google[/company] and [company]Amazon[/company], has a fairly strong hybrid cloud story that it bolstered with news of its Dell-based Microsoft Cloud Platform System.


Scott Guthrie Microsoft Structure 2014

CPS melds Azure, Windows Server and System Center to deliver an “Azure-consistent cloud in a box.” This is sort of like the “son of” the Azure enterprise appliance Microsoft announced four years ago with hardware partners Dell, HP and Fujitsu. (Fujitsu was the only one of the three to bring the product to fruition.) The difference here is that the new cloud platform system is better packaged for typical service providers or companies while the older appliance targeted just the biggest of the big service providers, Guthrie said.  While Dell is the only hardware partner currently, this is not an exclusive arrangement and Microsoft will work with other hardware suppliers, he said.

One thing is certain — public cloud is a moving target with Google, AWS and Microsoft shots. On Monday while Guthrie and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella were on a charm offensive, AWS sent out invites to a virtual press conference for Thursday. This could be news of a new German cloud region; more instance types; more price cuts. Or perhaps per-minute pricing — a feature that both Microsoft and Google offer but AWS does not. (Amazon charges in per hour increments.)

Over the past few years, Amazon stored up a bunch of announcements for its annual AWS Re:Invent, but it may no longer have that option, given the heightened competition.

Whatever you think of Microsoft Azure or the Google Cloud Platform, AWS is no longer the only cloud in town. Or, as Guthrie noted:   “This is no longer a one-horse race and that’s good for customers.”