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Avanade getting into hardware to deliver an Azure Stack

Huawei's decided to get into Microsoft’s hybrid cloud too

UPDATED Services company Avanade is going to sell Microsoft Azure Stack hardware.

Azure Stack is Microsoft's on-premises cut of its Azure cloud and promises to offer a seamless Azure experience – complete with the services in Redmond's cloud – rather than a “hybrid virtualization” approach that offers the same abstraction on-premises and in the cloud.

Avanade started life in 2000 as a Microsoft-Accenture joint venture designed to grow a global consulting firm capable of implementing Microsoft products at scale. Today Accenture owns a majority stake and operates Avanade as a subsidiary. Annual revenues are $2bn.

But the company has remained true to its services roots and hardware-agnosticism.

Until Wednesday, when it announced “the upcoming availability of a complete Microsoft Azure Stack solution from a single provider.” The company has since confirmed to The Register that wording means it will sell hardware.

“We have partnered with a leading datacenter hardware solution provider and a leading network equipment company to manufacture the hardware,” a spokesperson told us. That hardware will include “a space-constrained turnkey Azure Stack with four nodes in 6U (including switching and management host), the second is a density/capacity optimized azure stack with four nodes in in 8U (including switching and management host). Both are expandable to the full 12 node maximum.”

Avanade will happily run the hardware in its own bit barns, manage it in a third-party data centre or help customers to run them on-premises.

Convincing a services company to dabble with its own hardware is no mean feat, underscoring the expectation that Azure Stack will make life very interesting for vendors of hyperconverged appliances, hybrid cloud management software and the server market in general.

Momentum for Azure Stack is strong - Dell EMC, Cisco and HPE have all pledged to build Azure Stack rigs. And last week Huawei posted, then deleted, news that it would offer an Azure Stack product based on its FusionServer servers packed with Skylake Xeons, plus its CloudEngine top of rack switches.

There's a cut and paste of report of Huawei's post, and links to the company's dead announcement page, here. Your correspondent saw the now-disappeared Huawei page and asked the company to elaborate on its offering, to no avail at the time of writing. ®

UPDATE 04:00 GMT: Huawei's now confirmed its Azure Stack play, with a press release issued today confirming FusionServer and CloudEngine at the heart of the product, plus the suggestion the product "is expected to be commercially available by Q1 of 2018."

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