Category Archives: Cloud & Datacenter Management (2024-2025)

5 reasons to choose Azure VMware Solution over other VMware solutions in the cloud

Broadcom’s acquisition of VMware is causing significant upheaval among organizations that use VMware solutions, pushing them to explore alternatives to counteract changes in licensing policies and uncertainties about the continuity of products and services. In this context of uncertainty, VMware solutions on public clouds are gaining relevance as valid options to consider in certain scenarios. Microsoft, through Azure VMware Solution (AVS), offers a promising option. However, it is essential to recognize that similar alternatives are also offered by other cloud giants such as AWS, Google Cloud, and Oracle Cloud. This article aims to analyze the unique advantages of AVS, demonstrating why it can be considered the most advantageous choice for organizations in this delicate transition period.

Use Cases for Azure VMware Solution

Azure VMware Solution (AVS) is not suitable for all types of customers but can be ideal in specific adoption scenarios that require particular features and benefits. The main scenarios in which AVS is chosen include:

  • Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity: AVS offers interesting features for those who intend to undertake a path towards disaster recovery and business continuity.
  • Expansion, reduction, or consolidation of the datacenter: whether it’s about expanding existing capacity, reducing physical footprint, or consolidating infrastructures, AVS can facilitate these processes.
  • Simple and fast migration of workloads to Azure: for companies seeking a rapid and seamless transition of their existing VMware workloads to the cloud, AVS offers an optimal solution without the need for complex new configurations.
  • Application Modernization: although less common, application modernization becomes an accessible possibility once the AVS environment is operational. This scenario allows for agile leveraging of Azure’s extensive service ecosystem to innovate and improve existing applications. These scenarios demonstrate how AVS is particularly suited for large companies that require specific continuity, scalability, and modernization solutions within their VMware ecosystem.

Key Benefits of Azure VMware Solution

1. Azure Hybrid Benefit

One of the main benefits of choosing AVS is the Azure Hybrid Benefit. This program allows companies to use their existing Windows Server and SQL Server licenses with Software Assurance to save significantly on costs. This approach not only reduces expenses but also maximizes the investments already made in software licenses, providing a substantial economic advantage over other platforms that do not offer similar options.

2. Free Extended Security Updates (ESU)

Azure also stands out for its offering of free Extended Security Updates (ESU) for Windows Server and SQL Server 2012 and 2012 R2, extending protection up to three years beyond the product’s extended support end date. These updates, available at no additional cost, extend protection for three years beyond the planned end of extended support for these products. This opportunity is particularly relevant for companies that continue to use legacy applications, representing an exclusive advantage over competitors like AWS and Google. ESUs act as a temporary bridge to ensure security during the transition period towards more modern and supported platforms.

3. Integration with other Azure services

Another advantage of Azure VMware Solution (AVS) is its native integration with a wide variety of Azure services, including those related to artificial intelligence through Azure AI. This synergy allows companies to easily integrate advanced AI features into their applications, leveraging Azure’s infrastructure to innovate and enhance their service offerings.

4. Global availability

In terms of geographical availability, AVS has a significantly broader presence compared to competing solutions, with 30 public cloud regions available, including the North Italy region. This number is higher compared to competitors, with VMware Cloud on AWS available in 23 regions and Google Cloud VMware Engine in 19. This extensive network of available regions offers greater flexibility and facilitates better proximity to customers, effectively meeting the local needs of companies.

5. Price protection and savings

Azure promotes the adoption of Azure VMware Solution (AVS) with advantageous price protection policies and saving opportunities. Companies can take advantage of the Reserved Instances option to fix prices for periods of one, three, or five years, thus ensuring predictable costs in the long term. Furthermore, until December 31, 2024, there is a special offer that provides a 20% discount on the purchase of new annual Reserved Instances for the Azure VMware solution. It is important to note that the option for five-year Reserved Instances will only be available until the same date, offering an additional opportunity to plan long-term investments under economically favorable conditions.

Conclusion

Choosing Azure VMware Solution over the offerings of other cloud service providers is not just a matter of comparing technical features but also of evaluating economic benefits, security, integration, and global availability. For companies looking to optimize their VMware investment in the cloud, AVS represents a highly advantageous solution, leveraging the Azure ecosystem to provide superior service. With these strengths, Azure positions itself as a leader in the transition towards VMware-based cloud environments.

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) Strategies for Azure Stack HCI

Azure Stack HCI is a cutting-edge solution in the hyper-converged infrastructure landscape, designed to offer businesses the flexibility to integrate their on-premise infrastructure with the capabilities of Azure cloud. This platform stands out for its ability to optimize resources, enhance operational efficiency, and ensure simplified management through advanced virtualization, storage, and networking technologies. In an increasingly digitalized context, where operational continuity and rapid response capabilities to potential disasters are essential, Azure Stack HCI emerges as the ideal solution to meet these challenges, ensuring organizations remain resilient, operational, and competitive, even in the face of unforeseen events and calamities. This article aims to explore the main Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) strategies that can be implemented with Azure Stack HCI, highlighting how this platform can be a fundamental element for a robust IT infrastructure.

Overview of Azure Stack HCI

Azure Stack HCI is an innovative solution from Microsoft that allows the implementation of a hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) in an on-premise environment, while simultaneously providing a strategic connection to Azure services. This platform supports Windows and Linux virtual machines, as well as containerized workloads, along with their storage. As a hybrid product par excellence, Azure Stack HCI enhances integration between on-premise systems and Azure, offering access to various cloud services, including monitoring and management.

This hybrid model simplifies the adoption of advanced scenarios like disaster recovery, cloud backup, and file synchronization, facilitating the expansion of business operations into the cloud as needed. The main advantages of Azure Stack HCI include reduced IT complexity, cost optimization through more efficient resource use, and the ability to rapidly adapt to the continuously evolving business needs.

Figure 1 – Overview of Azure Stack HCI

For a detailed exploration of the Microsoft Azure Stack HCI solution, I invite you to read this article or view this video.

The Importance of Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

The strategies of Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery are crucial in the context of Azure Stack HCI for several reasons.

Having solid BC and DR strategies ensures that, even in the face of hardware failures, natural disasters, cyberattacks, or other forms of disruptions, critical operations can continue without substantial interruptions. This not only protects the reputation and continuity of the business, but also ensures that critical data is protected and recoverable, minimizing the risk of financial and data loss.

Moreover, in an environment increasingly dependent on data and applications for daily operations, IT resilience becomes a competitive factor. Implementing effective BC and DR strategies in Azure Stack HCI allows demonstrating reliability and resilience to stakeholders, including customers, partners, and employees, strengthening confidence in the operational model.

For these reasons, BC and DR are fundamental elements of the IT strategy in Azure Stack HCI, ensuring that business operations can withstand and quickly recover from disruptions, thus protecting the operational integrity of the organization.

Risk Assessment and Business Impact

In the realm of IT infrastructure management, the ability to anticipate and effectively respond to potential risks is crucial for maintaining business continuity. The optimal adoption of Azure Stack HCI requires a thorough analysis and a well-defined mitigation strategy. In this section, we explore the essential steps for identifying risks, assessing business impact, and establishing recovery priorities, key elements for successfully implementing an effective Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) strategy in the Azure Stack HCI environment.

Risk Identification

Risk assessment for the Azure Stack HCI environment must rely on meticulous analysis to identify potential risks that can threaten the integrity and operational continuity of the infrastructure. These risks can vary from natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes to hardware failures, network disruptions, cyberattacks, and software issues. It is essential to perform a targeted assessment to identify and classify risks, thus creating a solid foundation for strategic planning and mitigation.

Business Impact Analysis

Next, it is necessary to proceed with assessing the impact that each identified risk can have on business operations. This process, known as Business Impact Analysis (BIA), focuses on the extent of disruption each risk can cause, evaluating consequences such as loss of critical data, disruption of essential services, financial impact, and loss of reputation. The goal is to quantify the Maximum Tolerable Downtime (MTD) for each critical business function, in order to establish recovery priorities and the most appropriate response strategies.

Recovery Priorities

Based on the Business Impact Analysis, recovery priorities are established to ensure that resources and efforts are focused on restoring the most critical functions for business operations. This approach ensures that recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs) are aligned with business needs and expectations.

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Strategies

The Business Continuity strategies for Azure Stack HCI aim to create a highly available and resilient environment, thus ensuring the continuity of business activities. Concurrently, the Disaster Recovery (DR) strategies are designed to ensure a quick and efficient resumption of IT operations following critical events. In the following paragraphs, we explore the key aspects to consider for effectively implementing these strategies.

Redundancy and High Availability

Redundancy and high availability are fundamental components of Business Continuity strategies in Azure Stack HCI. Implementing redundancy means duplicating critical system components, such as servers, storage, and network connections, to ensure that in the event of a component failure, another can take its place without interruption. Azure Stack HCI supports high availability configurations through failover clusters, where computing and storage resources are distributed across multiple nodes. In case of a node failure, workloads are automatically shifted to other available nodes in the cluster, thus maintaining operations without downtime. This configuration not only protects against hardware failures but also ensures resilience against operating system-level disruptions.

Backup and Recovery

Regarding backup and recovery, it is essential to implement a strategy that ensures data protection and the ability to quickly restore data after an interruption. Azure Stack HCI integrates with most backup solutions, ensuring security and reducing the risk of data loss. It is recommended to schedule regular backups, adapting them to the frequency of data changes and specific business needs. Additionally, it is advised to regularly test restores to ensure that data can indeed be recovered within the time specified by the Recovery Time Objective (RTO).

Operational Continuity Testing

To validate the effectiveness of continuity strategies, it is crucial to regularly conduct operational continuity tests. These tests not only include backups and restores but also assess the ability of the infrastructure to function in conditions of partial or total failure. It is important to conduct targeted tests during the initial validation phase of the environment and to repeat them periodically in different scenarios to ensure that redundancy mechanisms function as expected.

Disaster Recovery Sites and Processes

Azure Stack HCI supports various disaster recovery site configurations to increase resilience. On-premise disaster recovery sites can be configured through stretched clusters that distribute the workload across multiple geographic sites, ensuring operational continuity even in the event of a complete failure of one of the sites.

Figure 2 – Comparison of types of stretched clusters

Alternatively, disaster recovery sites on Azure offer the flexibility to utilize cloud capacity for rapid recovery, enabling effective management of Disaster Recovery (DR) with virtual resources that can be quickly scaled.

Figure 3 – Hybrid features of Azure Stack HCI with Azure services

The disaster recovery process in Azure Stack HCI must be designed to ensure a quick and efficient resumption of IT operations after a critical event. This may include configuring failover mechanisms that leverage specific solutions, such as Azure Site Recovery (ASR), to orchestrate the recovery of virtual machines and services. With ASR, recovery can also be tested in a sandbox environment, thus ensuring the integrity of the process without impacting the production environment.

Automation and Documentation

Automation plays a key role in disaster recovery processes for Azure Stack HCI. By using tools such as Azure Site Recovery and Azure Automation, the client can automate the failover and failback process, reducing human error and accelerating recovery times. Automation ensures that each step of the DR plan is executed consistently and in accordance with defined standards.

Concurrently, detailed documentation of all disaster recovery procedures is essential. This should include recovery plans, system configurations, operational instructions, and key contacts. Documentation must be easily accessible and regularly updated to reflect any changes in the infrastructure or procedures. Having comprehensive and up-to-date documentation is crucial for ensuring an effective response during a disaster and for facilitating ongoing reviews and improvements to the DR plan.

Monitoring and Management Tools

The management of Azure Stack HCI is conducted using widely recognized tools such as Windows Admin Center, PowerShell, System Center Virtual Machine Manager, and third-party applications. The integration between Azure Stack HCI and Azure Arc allows for extending cloud management practices to on-premises environments, significantly simplifying use and monitoring. In particular, the Azure Stack HCI Insights solution offers an in-depth view of the health, performance, and utilization of Azure Stack HCI clusters.

Figure 4 – Azure Stack HCI monitoring

These tools provide detailed and simplified management of the platform, including configuration and monitoring of BCDR functions, facilitating daily operations and ensuring a timely response in case of emergencies.

Conclusions

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery strategies are essential in the context of Azure Stack HCI, which not only protects businesses from interruptions and disasters but also drives innovation and operational efficiency. Integration with Azure services enhances the resilience and risk management of Azure Stack HCI. This platform offers a solid architecture and allows integration with advanced features for backup and recovery, supporting businesses in ensuring data continuity and integrity. Azure Stack HCI thus proves to be not only a modern infrastructure solution but also a pillar for corporate IT resilience.

Strategic Integration Between Azure Stack HCI and Azure Virtual Desktop

In the current context of continuous technological evolution, the importance of resilient, scalable, and secure infrastructure solutions has never been more apparent. Microsoft’s Azure Stack HCI emerges as a key player in this landscape, offering a powerful hybrid platform that bridges on-premises environments and the cloud. With the integration of Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD), this solution becomes even more strategic for companies looking to navigate the complexities in the field of desktop and application virtualization, extending the capabilities of Microsoft’s managed cloud service to the hybrid cloud environment. Through this approach, organizations can now deploy virtual desktops and applications more efficiently, while ensuring low-latency connectivity and access to Azure’s managed services for leading-edge management, security, and scalability. This article will explore in detail the features, benefits, and innovations of Azure Virtual Desktop on Azure Stack HCI, providing a comprehensive overview of how these technologies can transform company IT infrastructures to better face the challenges of the modern work world.

Overview of Azure Stack HCI and Azure Virtual Desktop

What is Azure Stack HCI?

Azure Stack HCI is an innovative solution from Microsoft that enables the implementation of a hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) for running workloads on-premises while maintaining a strategic connection to Azure services. This system eliminates the need for various traditional hardware components, opting instead for a software solution that integrates computing, storage, and networking into a single platform. This marks an evolution from traditional “three-tier” infrastructures, characterized by network switches, appliances, physical systems with hypervisors, storage fabric, and SAN, to a more simplified and efficient solution. Azure Stack HCI offers an infrastructure powered by a hyper-converged model, which supports both Windows and Linux virtual machines as well as containerized workloads, together with their storage. As a quintessential hybrid product, Azure Stack HCI facilitates the integration between on-premises systems and Azure, allowing access to cloud-based services, monitoring, and management. This gives organizations the agility and benefits typical of public cloud infrastructure, while effectively responding to use cases and regulatory requirements of specialized workloads that need to remain on-premises. Azure Stack HCI thus positions itself as a strategic choice for organizations aiming to combine cloud efficiency with the specific needs of the on-premises environment.

What is Azure Virtual Desktop?

Azure Virtual Desktop is a state-of-the-art VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) solution, cloud-based, designed to effectively meet the needs of modern work, whether remote or hybrid. Unique in its kind, it is fully optimized to leverage the multi-session capabilities of Windows 11 and Windows 10, ensuring optimal integration and efficiency. Additionally, Azure Virtual Desktop stands out for its robust security features, designed to protect corporate applications and data while ensuring compliance with current regulations. The platform is designed to significantly simplify the deployment and management of the VDI infrastructure, offering complete control over configuration and management. Thanks to its consumption-based pricing structure, it allows for reduced operational costs, leveraging investments and skills already acquired in the field of virtualization, paying only for the resources actually used.

What is Azure Virtual Desktop for Azure Stack HCI?

Azure Virtual Desktop for Azure Stack HCI represents an innovative technological solution that integrates the distinctive benefits of Azure Virtual Desktop and Azure Stack HCI. This integration offers organizations the flexibility to run virtualized desktops and applications securely not only in the cloud but also on-premises. Particularly suitable for entities with specific data residency requirements, latency sensitivity, or data proximity needs, Azure Virtual Desktop for Azure Stack HCI extends the capabilities of the Microsoft Cloud to corporate datacenters, promoting an IT environment more adaptive and responsive to business needs.

Key Features and Benefits

The main features and benefits of this solution include:

  • Performance optimization: enhances the user experience of Azure Virtual Desktop in regions with limited connectivity to the Azure public cloud, offering session hosts in physical proximity to users.
  • Compliance with data locality requirements: allows organizations to meet data residency requirements, keeping the data of applications and users on-premises. This aspect is crucial for companies operating in regulated sectors or with specific data privacy and security needs.
  • Access to legacy resources: facilitates access to legacy applications and data sources by keeping them in the same physical location as virtualized desktops and apps.
  • Full and efficient Windows experience: ensures a smooth and complete user experience thanks to compatibility with Windows 11 and Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session, while optimizing operational costs.
  • Unified management: simplifies the deployment and management of the VDI infrastructure compared to traditional on-premises solutions, using the Azure portal for centralized and integrated control.
  • Optimal network performance: ensures the best connection performance with RDP Shortpath, reducing latency and improving user access to virtualized resources.
  • Simple updates: allows for quick and simple deployment of the latest fully updated images through the use of Azure Marketplace images, thus ensuring that the virtual environment remains secure and up-to-date.

Azure Virtual Desktop for Azure Stack HCI is configured as a highly scalable and secure solution that enables companies to effectively address challenges related to data management, latency, and compliance, promoting an optimized and centrally manageable virtual work environment.

Integration Mechanisms

The main key mechanisms through which AVD integrates with Azure Stack HCI include:

  • Virtual machines as Session Hosts: the virtual machines (VMs) created on Azure Stack HCI act as session hosts for AVD. These VMs are managed just like any Azure VM but are located on-premises.
  • Azure managed components: AVD on Azure Stack HCI uses Azure managed components, such as brokerage and gateway services, while deploying session host pools directly on Azure Stack HCI clusters.
  • System requirements: to implement this configuration, you need to have Azure Stack HCI version 23H2 or higher. Additionally, you must have a Windows image for the VMs and a logical network that supports DHCP on Azure Stack HCI.

Deployment and Management

Here is how the deployment and management of AVD in this hybrid context works:

  • Location definition: deploying on Azure Stack HCI requires defining a custom location that represents the Azure Stack HCI cluster during the creation of resources on Azure. This step is crucial to ensure that resources are correctly associated with the desired physical infrastructure.
  • Configuration of Session Host pools: session host pools can be made up of VMs located in the Azure cloud or on a specific Azure Stack HCI cluster. It is important to note that VMs from both origins cannot be combined within a single pool.
  • Consistent management: the management of session hosts and user identities, which must be hybrid configurations synchronized between AD on-premises and Microsoft Entra ID, remains in line with standard Azure Virtual Desktop practices.

Licensing and Pricing

To implement Azure Virtual Desktop on Azure Stack HCI, it is essential to understand and ensure compliance with the necessary licenses and pricing models. Here are the three main components that influence the cost of Azure Virtual Desktop on Azure Stack HCI:

  1. Infrastructural costs: these costs directly relate to the Azure Stack HCI infrastructure on which Azure Virtual Desktop is run. More information on the Azure Stack HCI cost model can be found in this article.
  2. User access rights: the same licenses that grant access to Azure Virtual Desktop on Azure also apply to Azure Virtual Desktop for Azure Stack HCI. It is important to note that user access pricing for external users is not supported on Azure Virtual Desktop for Azure Stack HCI.
  3. Hybrid service rate: this is an additional rate that applies to each active virtual CPU (vCPU) on Azure Virtual Desktop session hosts operating on Azure Stack HCI. The rate for the hybrid service is $0.01 per vCore per hour of use.

Conclusions

The innovative contribution of Azure Stack HCI, further enhanced by the integration with Azure Virtual Desktop, marks a fundamental turning point for organizations aspiring to an advanced and hybrid IT infrastructure. Azure Stack HCI establishes itself as the backbone of this transformation, offering optimized management of on-premises workloads, together with the flexibility and efficiency characteristic of the cloud. The implementation of Azure Virtual Desktop on Azure Stack HCI proves ideal for organizations that wish to leverage the potential of the cloud, while maintaining the specific needs of on-premises environments. This solution sets a new standard in the sector of hybrid VDI solutions, proposing an effective balance between innovation and customization.

Impact of Broadcom’s acquisition of VMware and Microsoft’s alternative solutions

The tech industry witnessed one of the most significant mergers in recent times in November 2023, with Broadcom’s acquisition of VMware. This historic deal, now known as “VMware by Broadcom,” immediately raised questions and sparked interest among customers and industry analysts. Indeed, in an ever-evolving technological landscape, the repercussions of such a merger extend well beyond the walls of VMware and Broadcom, directly affecting existing customers and the global market for cloud services and IT infrastructure. Amidst a sea of changes, including shifts in licensing policies and potential uncertainty about the continuity of products and services offered, a clear need emerges for organizations to carefully assess their options.

It is in this context that Microsoft emerges as a key player, offering alternative solutions that promise not only to mitigate the risks associated with this major acquisition but also to provide new opportunities for growth and innovation. With a wide range of cloud services, virtualization tools, and infrastructure solutions, Microsoft stands out as a solid reference point for those seeking stability and reliability in a rapidly evolving IT landscape.

This article aims to explore in detail the impact of Broadcom’s acquisition of VMware, highlighting the main concerns of customers and outlining how Microsoft’s proposed alternative solutions can represent a strategic way out for organizations facing this significant change.

Main Customer Concerns

The following paragraphs report the main concerns raised by customers following Broadcom’s acquisition of VMware.

Transition from Perpetual Licenses to Subscriptions

A significant change introduced by Broadcom involves the transition from perpetual licenses, once a cornerstone of VMware’s offering, to a subscription-based model. This move raises concerns about long-term costs, as the recurring expenses of subscriptions can accumulate and exceed the one-time costs of perpetual licenses. Moreover, there is fear that customers may lose control over software versions and be subject to additional costs for updates.

Lack of Price Transparency

Customers express concerns about the lack of transparency in the pricing structure post-acquisition. Broadcom has announced reductions in “unit cost” but without providing clear details, raising fears of hidden costs and included services not requested. This uncertainty makes it difficult for customers to predict their future expenses.

Risk of Product Discontinuity

Broadcom’s history of optimizing product portfolios through the elimination of less profitable offerings has fueled concern over the potential discontinuity of popular VMware products. A case in point was the announcement of the end of availability of the free hypervisor vSphere (ESXi 7.x and 8.x), which has created uncertainty and pushed customers to evaluate alternative solutions.

Reduced Choice and Vendor Lock-in

The elimination of some products and increased dependence on Broadcom’s offerings can limit customers’ options, increasing the risk of lock-in with a single vendor. This scenario raises concerns about a possible increase in costs and a reduction in bargaining power.

Concerns about Reduced R&D

There is a strong concern that Broadcom’s historically cost-cutting approach could limit investments in research and development (R&D), compromising the innovation that has characterized VMware’s success. Memories of past acquisitions, where Broadcom cut R&D budgets, fuel fears about the future competitiveness and vitality of VMware products.

Impact on the VMware Ecosystem

Forrester Research Prediction

Forrester Research has predicted that about 20% of VMware’s enterprise customers may decide to abandon the VMware stack, driven by concerns related to the acquisition. This significant percentage of customers is looking for alternatives to meet their needs in areas such as virtualization, cloud environment management, remote access for end-users, and hyper-converged infrastructure solutions.

VMware Product Strategy and Focus

VMware has responded by simplifying its product portfolio, focusing the offering on three main areas: VMware Cloud Foundation, VMware vSphere Foundation, and additional services. This simplification aims to make it clearer for customers the technological path to follow, maintaining unchanged integrations with major cloud providers such as Azure, AWS, and Oracle. Moreover, for smaller implementations, VMware has kept the vSphere Standard and the vSphere Essentials Plus Kit, offering accessible options without overwhelming customers with an overly broad range of products.

Pricing and Offers

Despite the changes, VMware maintains a constant in its pricing strategy and offerings, opting for a subscription model that allows customers to align costs with the actual use of the software. This approach includes:

  • Subscription model: Allows paying for software based on actual use, aligning costs with real needs and avoiding large initial capital expenses (CAPEX). With terms of 1, 3, and 5 years, it offers the possibility to choose the duration of the subscription that best suits the organization’s needs and budget forecasts.
  • Core-based pricing: Rates are determined by the number of CPU cores used by the virtual machines, ensuring a cost allocation proportional to the resources used. A key aspect of the pricing model is the minimum threshold, which is equal to 16 cores per CPU.

Microsoft’s Alternative Solutions

Microsoft emerges as a key partner for customers looking for alternatives, offering innovative solutions for the migration and modernization of IT infrastructure. With an approach focused on innovation and flexibility, Microsoft primarily proposes the following solutions that can meet different needs and scenarios.

Azure Stack HCI: Bringing Azure into your data center with a hybrid infrastructure

Azure Stack HCI is Microsoft’s solution for creating an efficient and modern hyper-converged (HCI) infrastructure, suitable for running workloads in an on-premises environment with tight integration with Azure services. This solution is designed to facilitate the modernization of hybrid data centers, allowing users to enjoy a cohesive and familiar Azure experience even on-premises. Azure Stack HCI aims to simplify IT infrastructure management while improving efficiency and operational agility. For a detailed exploration of the Microsoft Azure Stack HCI solution, I invite you to read this article or watch this video. Additionally, for scenarios where a constant connection cannot be guaranteed (“disconnected” scenarios), it is possible to foresee the implementation of virtualization, storage, and network management solutions that leverage recent and innovative technologies included in Windows Server. For the latter, the new version 2025 will soon be launched.

Figure 1 – Azure Stack HCI overview

Azure VMware Solution (AVS): VMware in Microsoft’s data centers for enterprise realities

Azure VMware Solution leverages VMware technology on Azure to maintain symmetry with on-premises VMware environments, thereby accelerating the migration of VMware workloads to the Azure cloud with minimal adjustments. AVS facilitates the management of a hybrid cloud environment, offering private clouds in Azure, built on dedicated Azure infrastructure and bare-metal. Managed and supported directly by the Azure team and validated by VMware, this solution frees organizations from managing infrastructure and software. AVS includes essential VMware licenses such as vSphere, vSAN, NSX, and vMotion (VMware HCX), significantly simplifying migration and integration with Azure. For more details on the solution, you can consult this article on How to natively run VMware workloads in Azure.

Moreover, the Azure VMware Solution was recently made available in the Azure region of Northern Italy. This expansion allows customers in Italy to seamlessly integrate their VMware workloads with Azure services, leveraging the global scale, security, and performance of Azure while maintaining the VMware tools and skills they are accustomed to.

Figure 2 – Azure VMware Solution (AVS) overview

A particularly relevant aspect for organizations using Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 systems is the continuity of support in terms of security updates. Azure VMware Solution offers a significant advantage in this area: Extended Security Updates (ESU) for these systems are available at no additional cost when run on Azure VMware Solution. The provision of free ESU in Azure VMware Solution removes a common concern among many organizations regarding the costs and complexity associated with maintaining older systems in a secure environment. This approach allows companies to plan their migration and modernization of workloads with greater peace of mind, knowing that their Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 systems will continue to receive the necessary security updates for another 3 years during the transition to more recent technologies.

Azure VMware Solution not only facilitates the migration and integration of VMware environments with the Azure cloud but also provides essential support for managing legacy operating systems, offering a secure path to technological innovation and modernization without compromising security or operational stability.

Azure IaaS and PaaS: Migration and Modernization with Azure

For organizations aiming for a more radical modernization, Microsoft proposes migration to Azure IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) and PaaS (Platform as a Service). This strategy allows migrating, restructuring, and rewriting applications leveraging modern architectural models. Azure IaaS ensures the management and execution of applications on a reliable cloud infrastructure, with a focus on security and compliance. Azure PaaS options further accelerate application development, providing a rich variety of tools. These platforms facilitate the quick creation of applications, support for development across different platforms, and the use of advanced resources in a cost-effective manner thanks to a payment model based on actual use. Modernization with Azure IaaS and PaaS offers a smooth transition to a flexible infrastructure, eliminating the need for VMware licenses.

Figure 3 – Moving to Azure IaaS and PaaS

Conclusions

Broadcom’s acquisition of VMware represents a significant turning point for the tech industry, marking the beginning of a new era of uncertainty and opportunity. While this merger raises legitimate concerns among customers regarding the continuity of products, price transparency, and the safeguarding of IT investments, it also opens the door to new horizons of growth and innovation. In this context of change, Microsoft stands out as a reference point, offering robust alternative solutions that not only directly address the concerns raised by this situation but also provide an opportunity for organizations to renew and enhance their IT infrastructures with cutting-edge technologies. The solutions proposed by Microsoft, including Azure Stack HCI, Azure VMware Solution (AVS), and migration and modernization options with Azure IaaS and PaaS, represent a strategic response to the challenges posed by the acquisition. These offerings allow organizations to achieve operational continuity, flexibility, and access to an innovative ecosystem that supports growth and innovation.