Say what now?!
Microsoft have made quite the announcement – soon, organisations will be able to run VMWare virtual machines on Microsoft Azure.
These two companies have been perennial rivals in the virtualization space for many years, does this signify a thawing in their frosty relationship? No – anything but!
VMware running on Azure – What exactly is happening?
Microsoft have announced Azure Migrate, a new service which allows organisations to discover on-premises VMware VMs and migrate them into Azure using Azure Site Recovery (ASR). Azure Migrate has built-in rightsizing capabilities, potentially enabling organisations to save money on CPU, memory, disks and network. The aim here is to move as many customers off on-premises VMWare and into the Azure Cloud.
However, they also announced plans to run “the full VMware stack on Azure hardware”, offered in partnership with premier VMWare certified partners. They see this as an intermediate step for more challenging VMWare specific applications, with general availability expected “in the coming year”. These VMWare systems will be “co-located with other Azure services” – enabling integration between services such as:
- Azure Backup
- Azure Site Recovery
- Azure Security Centre
And VMWare workloads.
Why have Microsoft announced this?
VMWare and Amazon recently revealed “VMWare Cloud on AWS” – a way for organisations to run VMWare on bare metal AWS hardware, whilst tying in to AWS cloud services.
This recent Microsoft announcement appears to be a direct competitor to this.
“VMware does not recommend and will not support customers running on the Azure announced partner offering.”
It’s safe to say that VMWare are not happy about this.
“Recently, Microsoft announced preview of VMware virtualization on Azure, a bare-metal solution that is stated to run a VMware stack on Azure hardware, co-located with other Azure services in partnership with VMware-certified partners. No VMware-certified partner names have been mentioned nor have any partners collaborated with VMware in engineering this offering. This offering has been developed independent of VMware, and is neither certified nor supported by VMware.”
VMWare have taken this as an opportunity to have a couple of digs at Microsoft and their products:
“Microsoft recognizing 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.”
Quite how this will play out is yet to be seen and it certainly throws up a number of questions.
If VMWare are refusing to support workloads in Azure, where does that leave customers? Will they be happy to have it supported not by VMWare but by one of their Premier partners instead? Once VMWare discover which partners are involved, will they look to revoke their status – thus compromising their ability to provide support? Will we see changes to VMWare license terms, preventing this kind of move being possible? Will that be possible without also preventing the AWS initiative too?
I wonder if Microsoft have been waiting for the AWS announcement, as this sets a precedent. If VMWare will allow things to be done on one 3rd party Cloud provider, it makes it more difficult to prevent it happening on another.
Ultimately, this SHOULD lead to more customer choice, which is always a good thing. Organisations wishing to leverage their VMWare investments but also benefit from the advantages of public cloud will soon be able to do that, with the 2 largest public clouds as options. However, the worry is that such customers will find themselves caught in uncertainty as VMWare and Microsoft engage in posturing and legal engagements for who knows how long.
It has been said before that VMWare are, in some ways, akin to Microsoft of the 1990’s. If they do engage the lawyers in this battle to prevent Microsoft from hosting VMWare in Azure, I certainly feel this would be reminiscent of the Microsoft of old.
Microsoft’s initial announcement listed a webinar for November 28th, where more details would be revealed; that webinar has now been pushed back to December 13. Whether that is related to VMWare’s less than thrilled response – and perhaps legal machinations – remains to be seen.
About Rich Gibbons
A Northerner renowned for his shirts, Rich is a big Hip-Hop head, and loves travel, football in general (specifically MUFC), baseball, Marvel, and reading as many books as possible. Finding ways to combine all of these with ITAM & software licensing is always fun!
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