Microsoft teams with Quanta for 'private Cloud in a box'

Quanta Computer and Microsoft will offer 'pre-validated' configurations of hardware and software for deploying private Clouds

Microsoft has partnered with Taiwan's Quanta Computer to design a Windows-based system that aims to get business customers up and running quickly on a private Cloud.

The effort is part of what Microsoft calls its Private Cloud Fast Track program, in which it works with hardware makers to design private, or on-premise, cloud computing systems. It's already developed similar systems with at least two companies, Dell and Fujitsu.

The Quanta system includes servers, storage and network hardware combined with Microsoft's Windows Server, Hyper-V and other software. The companies design "pre-validated configurations" that customers can then deploy.

"This is the ability to take our server technologies, marry them with the hardware from our ecosystem of providers and build essentially a private cloud in a box," Steve Guggenheimer, the vice president in charge of Microsoft's OEM business, said in a keynote address at Computex Wednesday.

The systems are supposed to make it faster and less risky that assembling a custom private cloud. Private clouds are typically built from virtualized hardware and allow companies to provision new applications and services more quickly than using dedicated hardware.

Microsoft didn't give a price or release date for the Quanta cloud, or provide technical specifications. Quanta is best known as a contract manufacturer of laptops for the big U.S. brands, but it also makes servers and even containerized data centers.

Guggenheimer also announced the release of a new "technology preview" of Windows Embedded Standard 8, the next version of Microsoft's software for in-car computing, industrial systems and a host of other embedded purposes..

The update adds the ability to create Metro-style interfaces for embedded systems that have a user interface, he said.

The announcements were made in a speech that otherwise focused primarily on Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 OS release. Guggenheimer didn't provide a release date for that software, as some had expected, but announced that customers who buy a Windows 7 PC between now and January 31 will be able to upgrade to Windows 8 for $14.99 in the US., or a roughly equivalent price in other countries.

Such upgrade programs are designed to prevent users from holding off on buying a new PC until an upcoming OS release comes out. The upgrade price applies for consumers only, and there was no news about enterprise upgrades.

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James's e-mail address is james_niccolai@idg.com

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