Channeling the Cloud

Microsoft Tries Harder with Amazon-to-Azure Migrations

With the debut of Azure Migration Accelerator, Microsoft has fired another volley against cloud leader Amazon Web Services.

It appears Microsoft is emerging as the Avis of cloud computing. But unlike the car rental giant, which argued for 50 years that its No. 2 standing meant it tries harder, Microsoft's taking a more aggressive stance against Amazon Web Services (AWS), the Hertz of the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) business.

Microsoft is pushing to make it easier for customers to move existing workloads from AWS to Microsoft Azure with a tool that partners can use to "seamlessly" migrate physical and virtual workloads to its Azure public cloud service. The company last month released a limited preview of the new Migration Accelerator, which moves workloads to Azure from physical machines, virtual machines (VMs) -- both VMware- and Hyper-V-based -- and those running in the AWS public cloud.

Migration Accelerator "automates all aspects of migration including discovery of source workloads, remote agent installation, network adaptation and endpoint configuration," according to the announcement posted by Srinath Vasireddy, a principal program manager lead for Windows Server System Center and Azure at Microsoft. Vasireddy maintained that the tool can reduce the cost and risk to migration projects.

It's also designed to move multi-tier production systems while ensuring the consistency of applications orchestrated across all tiers. If it works as advertised, those multi-tier apps will run on Azure as they did at the on-premises source. The Microsoft cloud Migration Accelerator is also designed to ensure that target VMs are dormant during migrations to lower compute costs, and it provisions workloads automatically using lightweight agents on targets to enable continuous replication. It also supports automated network adaptation and endpoint reconfiguration.

The launch of the new migration tool comes as Microsoft officials are touting the growth of Azure at the expense of AWS. Microsoft Technical Fellow for Cloud and Enterprise Mark Russinovich emphasized that point in a speech at this summer's TechMentor conference, which is produced by 1105 Media, the parent company of Redmond Channel Partner magazine and RCPmag.com.

There are now 17 Azure datacenters worldwide and the company says 57 percent of the Fortune 500 use the service. Russinovich touted 300,000 active Web sites, 1 million active database services, 30 trillion objects in the Azure Storage service with 3 million active requests per second at peak times and 13 billion authentication requests against 300 million accounts in Azure Active Directory, which also federates with the on-premises Active Directory. "People are starting to realize we're in it to win," Russinovich told TechMentor attendees.

Pointing to the Amazon earnings miss last quarter, attributed by analysts to the company's cloud business, Russinovich told attendees the pricing pressure from Google and Microsoft was a factor. Amazon may have disappointed, but it still reported 90 percent usage growth for its enterprise cloud business.

You would think the Microsoft cloud team was wearing those retired Avis "We Try Harder" badges. Azure is emerging as a robust cloud offering that could be No. 2 for some time. Microsoft should probably be OK with that, so long as other rivals don't step in and take those badges.

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About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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