Microsoft kindly offers VMware-to-Azure backup

'Back up the whole data centre just by connecting to vCenter!' but it's no Virtzilla-killer

Microsoft has a new offer for VMware users: agentless backup for vSphere VMs – to an on-premises target or Azure - made possible through a vCenter API.

Redmond's been keen on offering cloud services to VMware users for some time: it already offers a disaster recovery service that preserves vSphere VMs in Azure and even runs them there in case of disaster. An early 2016 upgrade added non-disruptive disaster recovery testing.

Now comes Microsoft Azure Backup Server Update 1 (MABSU1), which can use vCenter's VADP API to discover VMs on a host, a cluster or on shared storage and shunt them all into Azure.

MABS does what it says on the tin: run in Azure and do backups. The tool targets Microsoft's main enterprise applications - think SQL Server, SharePoint and Exchange, or a boring old file server running Windows – and has long been happy backing up Windows Servers or Hyper-V VMs.

Now it can handle VMware VMs too. All the action happens over HTTP, without requiring agents on the VMware-tended VMs.

VMware's cloud strategy is to operate its own modest cloud, vCloud Air, but also to encourage partners of all sizes to build clouds. Whether the cloud is VMware's or a partner's, the strategy is that they will all run vanilla vSphere and therefore look, feel and behave just like customers' on-premises vSphere implementations. Which makes backup and disaster recovery pleasantly simple.

Microsoft's therefore trying to eat a little of Virtzilla's lunch.

Which may not be a bad thing: whenever The Register's virtualisation desk talks to members of the vCloud Air Network, as those who run VMware-powered clouds are dubbed, they say that any news that shows off vSphere in the cloud just piques customer interest. So this is not necessarily Microsoft chipping at VMware. Indeed, the addition of VMware support to MABS also shows that potential customers for the tool are probably running more than one hypervisor. Not offering vSphere support would therefore limit MABS' appeal.

Let's not forget, also, that the easiest way for Microsoft's sales force to hit their targets is to sell Azure. Anything that gets Microsoft to its current goal of more people paying for more services in more months is very welcome down Redmond way. ®

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