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VMware Declines to Endorse Microsoft Azure as a Competitor to VMware on AWS

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Posted on November 22, 2017.

Buzz on Twitter and a surge of sudden articles has been revolving around an announcement by Microsoft today to introduce new services that position Azure Stack as a cloud platform for VMware. However, the result of this was more controversy than fanfare.

2017Nov25 Azure commentary-border.jpg


With this announcement, Microsoft is marketing itself as a direct competitor to "VMware on AWS [Amazon Web Services]". This became controversial when VMware promptly refused to endorse, support, or endorse Azure as a platform. This refusal to endorse was published today with the primary justification being that there must be explicit cooperation, testing, and planning between vendors in order for one to act as a battle-tested platform for the other.


Patel, Ajay. (November 22, 2017). "VMware - The Platform of Choice in the Cloud".
Retrieved from https://blog.cloud.vmware.com/s/content/a1y6A000000aFlgQAE/vmware-the-platform-of-choice-in-the-cloud

"Recently, Microsoft announced [a] preview of VMware virtualization on Azure, a bare-metal solution that is stated to run a VMware stack on Azure hardware… 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.. Hence, we cannot endorse an unsupported and non-engineered solution that isn’t optimized for the VMware stack... VMware does not recommend and will not support customers running on the Azure announced partner offering. (Ajay, November 22, 2017).

It is curious that VMware lashed out like this at Microsoft, but we only see what is on public display. Giving VMware the benefit of the doubt, perhaps we can assume that VMware already tried reaching out to Microsoft to help with engineering these new Azure services to be optimized for vSphere but that, for now, Microsoft insisted to act on its own.

However, as a customer and consumer of VMware, I would love to see this change. If Microsoft becomes motivated to work with VMware in order to introduce services that are jointly engineered between the two companies, then Azure and AWS could compete against each other in both quality of features and price of service. Customers can only hope that behind the scenes or under the surface that VMware and Microsoft are negotiating a plan for their engineers to work together and introduce a supported vSphere platform. AWS, while often able to cut physical infrastructure costs, is still a very expensive platform. It would follow that AWS and Azure entering a price war to support vSphere would only benefit consumers.

Either way, VMware was not shy about going on the record with a decisive dismissal of Microsoft's new strategy. Of everything mentioned, what will no doubt sting Microsoft the most is VMware's interpretation of this announcement as an acknowledgement on Microsoft's part that its own virtualization technology (Hyper-V and Azure Stack) is inferior to VMware's comparable offerings:

"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...." (Ajay, November 22, 2017)

Keeping an open mind for the future, VMware's wording that it will not support customers running on Azure is speaking to the present tense: VMware will not offer support to customers currently attempting to use Azure Stack as a platform. This does not exclude the possibility that VMware will offer support for Azure Stack in the future or that it will never recommend it in the future. For now, however, VMware is playing media relations hardball.

Two days later, VMware double downs on its position. VMware's Chief Operating Officer, Sanjay Poonen, speaks out validating its opposition to Microsoft's new announcement.


While Microsoft will likely attempt to proceed to position itself as the premiere platform for vSphere, so far VMware is not going to make it easy for them.



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