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Azure VMware Solution next gen offers easier migrations

VMware and Microsoft's partnership presents the next evolution of their Azure-VMware integration, which offers the ability to migrate VMware environments to the Azure platform.

On May 4, Microsoft and VMware announced the preview of the next generation of the Azure VMware Solution. It enables IT administrators to move VMware environments into Azure with a forklift migration ability that doesn't require recoding or moving applications from VMware VMs to native Azure ones. With the Azure VMware Solution, IT administrators are, essentially, taking their VMware stacks and running them on Azure hardware.

If this sounds familiar, it should. Though a few things are unique to the Azure VMware Solution, it's similar in many ways to VMware Cloud on AWS. For example, admins' hardware platforms have moved from on premises to the cloud and though they continue to receive the benefits of additional cloud services, their infrastructure is still VMware-based. As a result, admins get both the benefit and consistency of both the cloud and VMware, which should make migrations much easier.

Azure VMware Solution components, features and costs

The Azure VMware Solution contains three nodes or hosts as a minimum, with two different-sized hosts that range from 28 to 36 cores, 256 GB to 512 GB of RAM and 1.6 TB to 3.2 TB of storage. Though the monthly cost for Azure VMware Solution starts at $4,705 and $6,720, respectively, admins can get a 30% discount for a one-year reserved commitment and 50% off for a three-year commitment.

So, the pricing is fairly in line with VMware Cloud on AWS and Azure VMware Solution does include admins' previous VMware licensing for core products. However, Azure does offer additional benefits that could be useful to some admins.

For example, Microsoft offers additional free extended security updates for the Windows 2008 server family and SQL 2008. This might not be beneficial to those on new versions of the Windows OS, but Azure VMware Solution could be a game changer for admins with legacy applications who are struggling to move off these older versions of Windows. This can help reduce some required maintenance costs and provide a larger window for migrations, which can save admins time and effort with legacy systems.

Azure VMware Solution vs. VMware Cloud on AWS

When it comes to the Azure VMware Solution, admins' tool sets for infrastructure management are still VMware-based, so, from that aspect, there really isn't any benefit to choosing the Azure VMware Solution vs. VMware Cloud on AWS or Google. However, if admins consider their long-term goals, then they might begin to see some benefits to choosing one product over the other depending on those goals and the amount of time they have to accomplish them.

Cost, location and uptime are always considerations in moving to a cloud-based service.

For example, if admins' systems rely heavily on Microsoft technology, such as applications and development, it then becomes a question of the long-term aspect. Though Microsoft would like admins to switch to native Azure services overnight, the simple fact is many admins simply can't. The lead time for testing, migration and costs prevent quick migration and often extend the times well beyond what admins might originally plan.

But the key here is that moving VMware VMs running Windows in Azure VMware Solution to an Azure service should be easier than moving from VMware VMs running Windows in AWS and recoding them to run in native Amazon services. However, this is going to be very application-specific and could easily have hundreds of variables, but the simple fact is staying inside one vendor's ecosystem should -- but not always -- be easier.

This means that admins with a strong Microsoft focus should keep the migration aspect in consideration as they look at different cloud vendors. In addition, sticking with a single vendor from a support aspect should eliminate difficulties down the line compared to relying on multiple vendors for general support and migrations to native cloud services.

When deciding between Azure VMware Solution vs. VMware Cloud on AWS, cost, location and uptime are always considerations in moving to a cloud-based service. However, admins must also look down the road and ask themselves what they expect in the upcoming years. Is it to move from locally installed to cloud-based service? If admins' product stack is mostly Microsoft, then Azure VMware Solution is a consideration.

Final thoughts

It's slightly odd that only a few years ago, the hypervisor wars would have never let VMware and Microsoft be seated at the same table. However, as time passed, the hypervisor shifted from a need to a commodity and the actual profit in virtualization moved to the infrastructure around the hypervisor and not the hypervisor itself.

These additional services came into being based on the needs of admins. The growth of the applications that admins required and the need for IT elasticity even eclipsed what virtualization could do internally in admins' data centers. That is, unless admins were willing to have massive capital investment in data centers and hardware, which becomes the private cloud.

However, this entire concept somewhat fell flat on its face for many admins due to lack of equipment required to be truly elastic. So, these circumstances created an opportunity for both VMware and Microsoft to generate additional monthly revenue while still benefitting admins. In IT, the idea of a win-win doesn't come along every day, so sit back and enjoy it. That is, while it lasts.

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