VMware on Azure; It Is Not Horizon

Microsoft is releasing a new free tool called Microsoft Azure Migrate, which will aid VMware customers in moving their applications to Azure. Yes, that is correct: VMware on Azure! To be fair, this is not the biggest news. The announcement appears in its entirety here, and the relevant section is pulled out below:

Mushroom cloud behind Microsoft and VMware logos
VMware in Azure: a new cold war

Host VMware infrastructure with VMware virtualization on Azure. Most workloads can be migrated to Azure easily using the above services; however, there may be specific VMware workloads that are initially more challenging to migrate to the cloud. For these workloads, you may need the option to run the VMware stack on Azure as an intermediate step. Today, we’re excited to announce the preview of VMware virtualization on Azure, a bare-metal solution that runs the full VMware stack on Azure hardware, co-located with other Azure services. We are delivering this offering in partnership with premier VMware-certified partners. General availability is expected in the coming year. Please contact your Microsoft sales representative if you’d like to participate in this preview. Hosting the VMware stack in public cloud doesn’t offer the same cost savings and agility of using cloud-native services, but this option provides you additional flexibility on your path to Azure.

It seems that Microsoft has gone lone wolf and created a bare-metal VMware cloud in Azure with the help of an undisclosed VMware-certified partner. Now, I am all for choice, but there is a little history here, and a substory that does not make for a nice bedtime story. VMware on Azure is not a friendly cooperation between companies, like Horizon on Azure: this is a unofficial, non-VMware-sanctioned, maverick VMware deployment on bare-metal Azure hardware within the Azure environment.

The move appears to be more reminiscent of the bad old days of Microsoft Mythbusters (anybody remember them?) than of the caring, sharing Nadela’s Microsoft. Three things are interesting about this announcement:

First, it is coming just before AWS re:Invent, so it is timed for maximum effect against its major competitor in the public cloud, which incidentally has bare-metal VMware running in AWS data centers.

Second, this is not an officially sanctioned partnership between VMware and Microsoft, but between Microsoft and a premier VMware partner. Now, I wonder who this could be? Which premier VMware partner has a history of tweaking VMware’s nose? I have my thoughts, but I think that announcement will occur during AWS re:Invent, as Microsoft has a history of making announcements during competitor events.

The third, and to me the most interesting fact is that VMware has said that it will not offer support to any customers that utilize the Azure platform to deliver bare-metal VMware services. In fact, it has come out fighting. “No VMware-certified partner names have been mentioned nor have any partners collaborated with VMware in engineering this offering,” stated Ajay Patel, senior VP of Product Development, Cloud Services. “This offering has been developed independent of VMware, and is neither certified nor supported by VMware.”

In a further low-blow swipe at Microsoft, Patel added that “Microsoft’s stated intention is to enable this as an intermediary migration solution and not as a solution architected for running enterprise workloads in production. Microsoft recognising the leadership position of VMware’s offering and exploring support for VMware on Azure as a superior and necessary solution for customers over Hyper-V or native Azure Stack environments is understandable but, we do not believe this approach will offer customers a good solution to their hybrid or multi-cloud future.”

I have to say, this could be something or nothing, but I feel that it is being blown up into more than it is, as even Microsoft says that it is only to aid migration into Azure and is not supposed to be utilized as a fully fledged vSphere environment. Finally, in keeping with Microsoft’s best-honoured traditions regarding announcements, there is as yet no visibility on costings.

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