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Dell Technologies and Microsoft Partner to Bring VMware Cloud Infrastructure to Azure

On Monday at Dell Technologies World in Las Vegas, CEOs of Microsoft, VMware and VMware majority owner Dell Technologies Inc. announced an expansive partnership that will allow VMware customers to extend their VMware infrastructure investments to the Microsoft Azure cloud.

Other parts of the deal include future work on networking and on delivery of Azure services for VMware on-premises customers, integration by VMware of support for Microsoft's forthcoming Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD), and support for managing Office 365 across devices via VMware Workspace ONE.

In a statement, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella positioned the deal as part of Microsoft's recent pattern of working closely with competitors to advance common customer interests. "At Microsoft, we're focused on empowering customers in their digital transformation journey, through partnerships that enable them to take advantage of the Microsoft Cloud, using the technologies they already have," Nadella said.

Scott Guthrie, executive vice president for Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise Group, expanded on the theme in a blog post, putting the VMware deal in a line of agreements that includes SAP, Red Hat, Adobe and Citrix.

Called Azure VMware Solutions, the main element of the deal is technology built on VMware Cloud Foundation to run VMware workloads natively on Azure. "Customers can now seamlessly run, manage and secure applications across VMware environments and Microsoft Azure with a common operating framework," Guthrie wrote in his blog post. "Customers will be able to capitalize on their existing VMware investments, skills and tools, including VMware vSphere, vSAN, NSX and vCenter while leveraging the scale, performance and innovation of Azure."

In addition to giving customers the ability to manage on-premises and Azure clouds from within their current set of VMware tools, the two companies position the integration as a strong solution for application migration and modernization, datacenter resizings and disaster recovery/business continuity.

Azure VMware Solutions is available immediately in two Azure regions -- U.S. East and U.S. West -- with availability in the West Europe region coming shortly, according to a Microsoft FAQ. While it is sold by Microsoft, backed by the Azure service-level agreement and supported by Microsoft and VMware, it was developed in collaboration with VMware-certified partner CloudSimple. Additionally, a second version is being developed for release later this year by Virtustream, a Dell subsidiary.

The other immediate piece of the partnership will allow VMware Workspace ONE customers to manage Office 365 on devices using VMware's toolset. On stage Monday, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger described the arrangement as ending a dilemma for customers. "We've solved this battle that we've been having -- is it going to be a Workspace ONE device or a Microsoft Intune device? Gone," Gelsinger said. He said Workspace ONE would have best-in-class support for Office 365, Microsoft 365, Windows 10 and Azure Active Directory.

Also getting "first-class citizen" status within VMware infrastructure will be WVD, Gelsinger said. WVD is currently a Microsoft public preview for a service that delivers a multisession Windows 10 experience, optimizations for Office 365 ProPlus and support for Windows Server Remote Desktop Services (RDS) desktops and apps. VMware will extend the capabilities of WVD through VMware Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure. A tech preview is expected by the end of this calendar year.

Longer-term, the companies are exploring integrations between VMware NSX with Azure Networking and exploring bringing specific Azure services to VMware on-premises customers. No specific time frame was immediately available for those efforts.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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