Move VMware workloads to cloud without redesigning using Azure VMware Solutions

Many organization using VMware solutions have the need the decommission the current legacy datacentre. Reasons can be costs, not happy with the performance of the managed service provider or the wish to use cloud in any form.

In many cases these organizations want to ’empty’ the datacenter as soon as possible. The most efficient way to accomplish is by what is called a ‘lift and shift’ methode. Using the migration the workload (operating system and the applications running on it) are moved without modifications to a cloud platform. The target platform is an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering. However all major cloud providers like Microsoft, AWS and Google offer limited availability options in the platform. Features like VMware vMotion or HA are not available.

A much better scenario is moving to an interim solution which offers cloud features (like pay as you go) but also offer the availability, management options of the VMware platform. An example is VMware Cloud on AWS.

This kind of service is a way for cloud providers to lure customers into cloud. Once into your cloudplatform customers will not easy move to a competitor. The market of organizations using VMware willing to move to cloud is very big. Oracle has a similar service called ‘Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Ravello Service’. However not many customers are using this.

At April 29, 2019 Microsoft announced a similar service to VMware Cloud on AWS  called Azure VMware Solutions

So what is Azure VMware Solutions? 

Azure VMware Solutions is ‘VMware as a Service’.  Basically a set of bare metal servers running in Azure datacenters, fully managed by a company called CloudSimple offering VMware vSphere, NSX-T, vSAN and vCenter allowing  customers to run workloads without re-architecting applications in cloud offering the same VMware features as offered on-premises.

Connected to Azure services 

While the VMware infrastructure is isolated from other customers, one of the benefits of Azure VMware Solutions is the ability to connect to Azure Services. This allows a gradual migration of the application to native Azure service. An example could be to use Azure SQL Database Managed Instance in stead of a SQL Server instance running in a virtual machine.

The Azure Portal can be used to manage the virtual machines running on Azure VMware Solutions. So customers can not only use VMware vCenter Server to deploy instances but also native Azure tooling like Azure Resource Manager templates.

Pricing 

The pricing of  Azure VMware Solutions is per node. Besides the nodes, customers pay for the storage consumed.

Customers are charged for a minimum of one month (730 hours) each time they provision a node.  If you provision a three-node cluster of CS36 for 1 month in the US East region, the subscription charge will be €7.763*730*3 = €17,000.043.

Availability 

Azure VMware Solutions is currently (June 2019) available in just two Azure regions: US East and US West. The service will become available in the West Europe region in the near future.

What support does CloudSimple do? 

Azure VMware Solutions is VMware as a Service running on cloud. Which means the CloudSimple organization manages the infrastructure. It does monitoring, backup and installs updates on the VMware components. CloudSimple is responsible for lifecycle management of VMware software (ESXi, vCenter, PSC, and NSX) in the private cloud. More info here.

CloudSimple continuously monitors the following VMs for uptime and availability, and provides availability SLAs:

  • ESXi hosts
  • vCenter
  • PSC
  • NSX Manager

CloudSimple backs up, maintains, and updates these VMware elements in the private clouds:

  • ESXi
  • vCenter Platform Services
  • Controller
  • vSAN
  • NSX

What is CloudSimple ? 

In the various documents you will notice the name CloudSimple. The first signs of a offering allowing to run VMware workloads in Azure datacenters was a Microsoft announcement in November 2017. Since then no public information came out of this new offering. Using search engines no information can be found on  ‘CloudSimple VMware ‘ or ‘ CloudSimple Azure’ searches.

Microsoft Ventures invested in 2016 in CloudSimple. Guru Pangal is the founder and CEO of CloudSimple. He was co-founder of StorSimple, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2012.

The diagram shown below provides some insight into the service offering. Notice the ‘Azure VMware Solution by CloudSimple’ layer in gray above the  Azure bare metal servers.

Unfortunately CloudSimple provides little information about the integration between VMware solutions and the Azure platform. In this blog the CloudSimple OS is mentioned which ‘ manages the back-end operations of the service in a scalable, automated, and performant way’.

Another component is CloudSimple VMware Manager described as

an API plug-in for Azure that provides unified management across VMs in your dedicated cloud and the Azure public cloud. Users simply log in to consume VMs, as a service, and deploy apps. They never have to use vSphere to manage their VMs (unless you need to).

Nodes

Currently two types of bare metal servers (aka nodes) are available.  The CS28 node has 256 GB internal memory and 28 cores, the CS36 node has 512 GB internal memory and 36 cores.

Customers need to deploy a minimum of three nodes to be able to have a cluster and offer availability in case a node fails.

Use cases 

Besides the already mentioned datacenter migration, other use cases for Azure VMware Solutions are
Elastic Resources based on Demand,  Disaster Recovery and VDI implementations, High performance applications including databases and Hybrid Cloud infrastructure.

Trial 

Customers can request a 30-day free trial for Azure VMware Solution by CloudSimple here. Acceptance to the free trial is not guaranteed.

Documentation 

More information like technical documentation can be found here.

 

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