REDMOND, Wash. ( TheStreet) -- Microsoft ( MSFT) has signed up eBay ( EBAY), Dell ( DELL) and Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ) as cloud computing customers, deals that could boost awareness of the software giant's Azure technology. Aimed at software developers who want to create cloud services and applications, Microsoft is pushing its Azure offerings as a way for service providers and enterprises to quickly deploy cloud offerings.
In a statement, eBay confirmed that it is one of the first customers to use the Azure appliance, which will be deployed at two of the retailer's data centers. eBay explained that the appliance features Microsoft's Windows Azure and SQL Azure software, as well as a "Microsoft-specified" mix of network, storage and server hardware. The two companies, however, did not reveal the financial terms of the deal, although eBay is no stranger to Microsoft's Azure offerings. The online retailer already uses Microsoft's Azure technology to host its page for Apple ( AAPL) iPad listings. Microsoft also confirmed that Dell, H-P and Fujitsu are using the new appliance. "We are at an inflection point in technology history," said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's understated CEO, during his keynote at the company's Worldwide Partner Conference, which kicks off in Washington today. "For customers, cloud computing creates tremendous value, which translates to massive opportunity for Microsoft and its partners." Hell-bent on challenging the likes of Amazon ( AMZN) and Google ( GOOG), Microsoft unveiled its Internet-based Azure system earlier this year. The software maker also launched an Azure appliance pre-loaded with cloud software on Monday. The big challenge for Microsoft, though, is how to make its cloud initiatives work without eating into its traditional software business, something that investors will be closely monitoring over the coming months. While cloud services will inevitably put pressure on Microsoft's margins, this is clearly a risk that the software maker feels is worth taking. Earlier this year the software giant announced a partnership with H-P in an attempt to challenge IBM ( IBM) and Oracle's ( ORCL) cloud offerings.
During Microsoft's recent third-quarter conference call, the software maker confirmed that it is working with a slew of big-name companies to deliver cloud technology. These include Starbucks ( SBUX), McDonald's ( MCD), Glaxo SmithKline ( GSK) and Coca-Cola ( KO). Investors responded positively to the latest cloud wins. Microsoft shares rose 43 cents, or 1.73% in early trading to reach $24.70, despite a modest dip in tech stocks that saw the Nasdaq lose 0.06%. -- Reported by James Rogers in New York Follow James Rogers on Twitter.