Microsoft Revamps Its Azure VMware Platform

Microsoft this week quietly made a big change to its Azure VMware Solution that allows users to migrate their existing on-premises VMware applications to Azure without needing to re-architect them first.

The service is built on Azure and provides customers with the same VMware experience they are used to in their private data centers but in the Azure environment. Customers can provision a full VMware Cloud Foundation environment on Azure for greater elasticity of services typical from a public cloud. This includes access to VMware products like vSphere, the HCX application mobility platform, the NSX-T data center product, and vSAN hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI). Customers can also add access to the VMware HCX Enterprise platform that will allow older versions of vSphere running on premises to work on newer versions of vSphere running on the Azure VMware Solution platform.

Takeshi Numoto, commercial chief marketing officer for Microsoft, described the platform as a “first-party service from Microsoft” in a blog post. This is explained as being “directly owned, operated, and supported by Microsoft,” which provides for better quality, reliability, and a single point of contact at Microsoft.

The system is being initially launched as a preview in the Azure US East and West Europe regions. A general availability launch and geographic expansion is planned for later this year.

But, Is it New?

Microsoft initially unveiled the service last year as part of a broader deal that included VMware parent company Dell Technologies. That move allowed Microsoft 365 and VMware Workspace ONE customers to jointly manage Office 365 across devices via cloud-based integration with Microsoft Intune and Azure Active Directory. VMware also extended the capabilities of Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop by leveraging VMware Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure.

“With this announcement, Dell Technologies and Microsoft are working to simplify our customers’ entire technology environment,” said Michael Dell, chairman and CEO of Dell Technologies, in a statement at that time. “Our goal is to provide a single view from edge to core to cloud – an integrated platform for our customers’ digital future.”

While the update appears to be just a newer version of that initial launch, Microsoft claimed it was more extensive.

“It is an entirely new service,” a Microsoft spokesperson wrote in a brief email response to SDxCentral. “Since the launch of Azure VMware Solutions in May 2019, we have rearchitected the preview to focus on a single-tenant user experience and our first-party technology.”

Regardless of the depth of the new offering, the Azure VMware Solution continues to be a competing option to VMware’s successful partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS). That VMware Cloud on AWS service was initiated in 2017, and was touted by VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger as “the ultimate hybrid solution.”

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