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Microsoft kicks VMware right in its weakest, cloudiest spot

Improved VMware-to-Azure backup service shows, again, the weakness of vCloud Air

Microsoft has flicked the switch on an enhanced version of its Azure Site Recovery (ASR) for VMware customers.

ASR is pretty simple in concept: the service allows you to replicate virtual machines into Azure, update them and then run the VMs in Azure as a disaster recovery option. You pay US$54 a month per instance stored in Azure, but don't pay any compute or storage costs until you run the VM.

VMware offers a similar disaster recovery service in its own vCloud Air cloud. But VMware can't match Microsoft for cloudy scale or reach: ASR is offered in 18 locations compared to the nine (plus two government-only sites VMware operates.

VMware does have a network of partners who operate clouds running its wares. That network, according to analyst firm Gartner's late 2015 Vendor rating for VMware, is a strength, because the likes of CSC and CenturyLink “have a broader range of capabilities and also offer additional services that are important to midmarket and enterprise buyers, such as security services and managed services.”

Gartner's rating ranks vCloud Air as “underperforming” and urges “caution” for the company's hybrid cloud portfolio.

“The turmoil surrounding the Dell-EMC merger, the announcement of the Virtustream joint venture and the subsequent dissolution of the joint venture's formation will require VMware to consider anew its cloud strategy,” the firm writes.

But back to Microsoft's new toy, which no longer requires a virtual appliance to run in Azure to deliver the disaster recovery service, saving a few shekels along the way. There's also the ability to test disaster recovery rigs non-disruptively, support for vCenter 6.0 and VMs running RHEL 6.7.

Microsoft may not have been able to dislodge VMware from its niche in server virtualisation and if news of Hyper-V 2016's new features is any guide, Redmond isn't about to open a new front in the on-premises data centre.

Microsoft does, however, look to be outflanking VMware in the (hybrid) cloud.

Virtzilla remains steadfast in its belief that an all-VMware hybrid cloud makes life marvellously pleasant for vAdmins, because if the cloud and on-premises kit behave a like then that's got to be simpler? Right? Microsoft clearly cares little for such arguments: it's just given VMware users a broad, simple DR service that not only hurts Virtzilla but must also have storage vendors and DR software software vendors wondering where their next quid is coming from. ®

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