VMware ON Azure? But why?
Updated: Jan 17, 2021
With my head in the cloud the last almost 5 years, it may seem like sort of an anti-pattern to even think about VMware running on Azure, right? Know that it took me a few minutes to wrap my head around what running Azure VMware Solution would be like, let alone conceptually analyzing the reasons a company would choose to lean on running VMware in Azure.
When my current job opportunity popped up, I spent some time analyzing everything I had seen during my years as a Cloud Solution Architect (both at a Microsoft partner and at Microsoft). Digital transformation is not the easiest to execute and usually leads to massive anxiety or analysis by paralysis. There's usually a learning curve involved with embracing various different platforms of Azure (or even other clouds, if we're all being honest here).
When I used to lead those conversations previously, a lot of traditional system administrators and engineers believed their job to be in jeopardy or that their current skill set was no longer necessary. I would wind up playing a part-time therapist to help appease the actual digital transformation as a result. Some companies were hungry and eager to embrace the new, while others were really not ready.
What about leaning on a platform everyone knows and loves to help ease that transition into a software defined universe of cloud computing? Traditional system administrators and engineers get to keep using existing VMware investments, skills, and tools to support the range of business applications on a day-to-day basis with vSphere, vSAN, NSX-T, and vCenter. Another key aspect I usually bring up is you gain an opportunity to modernize your VMware workloads by integrating with native Azure services like Azure Active Directory, Azure Monitor, Azure Sentinel, Azure Arc, and Azure Security Center. This unlocks new and intelligent features just by making use of Microsoft's bare metal offering in Azure.
So you have a familiar VMware interface, which means your operational practices, standard operating procedures, automation, etc. can be met using the same platform you use on-premises. Then there's a seamless integration into the same Azure portal you may already be using, so everything winds up unified in a way that proves to be a compelling move for folks trying to figure out how to fight IT fires, innovate, and transform, all while keeping business apps resilient.
Landing on the bare metal, hyper converged infrastructure means your entire team will have a chance to upskill at a time that's convenient for everyone vs. drinking from the firehose and cramming brains full of Azure information. In the sessions I've lead since joining my current team at Microsoft, I can almost feel the anxiety lessening when the topic is brought up about Azure VMware Solution.
Additionally, Microsoft has had 2 flavors of Azure VMware Solution (and you may see these both referenced in online documentation and blog posts): Azure VMware Solution by CloudSimple and then there's a newer offering that reached GA status last September, simply called Azure VMware Solution. The newer version is the solution to track going forward and the easiest way to start digging in is to start absorbing the documentation at your leisure: https://docs.microsoft.com/azure/azure-vmware/introduction
Because some of us are great visual people, I also wanted to include a high level overview of the infrastructure diagram as well:
So stay tuned: I'll be unraveling more about Azure VMware Solution, Azure in general, and this will hopefully become a good reference point for future musings of things I learn or things I find ridiculously cool about Azure!