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With Microsoft Cloud Deal, VMware Plays the Field

VMware this week announced a partnership with Microsoft that would enable VMware's Horizon Cloud Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) infrastructure to be delivered on the Azure public cloud.

News of the offering, dubbed "VMware Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure," comes months after VMware announced a deal with Microsoft's biggest cloud rival, Amazon Web Services (AWS), to integrate its infrastructure with the AWS cloud.

VMware's announcement of the Microsoft partnership quoted IDC's Robert Young on the biggest potential benefit for VMware: "The addition of a major cloud platform such as Microsoft Azure has the potential to accelerate the adoption of VMware Horizon among customers searching for a different way to manage and deliver Windows 10 desktops and applications."

Last October, VMware took the wraps off its AWS offering, called "VMware Cloud on AWS," which uses VMware's plumbing technologies -- such as software-defined networking via NSX and software-defined storage via VSAN -- to undergird a hybrid cloud environment.

At that time, AWS CEO Andy Jassy said that AWS would be VMware's primary public cloud infrastructure partner, and VMware would be AWS' primary private cloud partner. Jassy didn't discuss DaaS, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) or endpoint management. Whether that was intentional or not, it appears that VMware has decided to significantly broaden its cloud partnerships to include the No. 2 public cloud provider in Microsoft.

As a strategy, it appears to make sense, as Azure is a fast-growing platform adding customers at a rapid rate. AWS continues to lead, but is seeing that lead shrink as Azure catches up, especially in the enterprise. According to a recent survey by Sumo Logic, Azure has taken the lead in the enterprise space, while others have found Azure to be ahead of AWS -- to the point of widening its lead -- in the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) segment of the market.

The Azure deal further solidifies VMware's about-face on public cloud in general. At one time, both AWS and Azure were primary competition for VMware in its attempt to build its own public cloud platform, originally called vCloud Hybrid Services. It was eventually renamed vCloud Air.

Launched in August 2014, vCloud Air was an attempt to move VMware's customers to the public cloud without ever leaving its proprietary infrastructure. But vCloud Air never took off, remaining more of an on-premises and hybrid cloud solution. Because of that failure, last month VMware sold off vCloud Air to the European hosting provider OVH.

VMware said that VMware Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure is expected to be available in the second half of 2017. Pricing details weren't given, but Horizon Cloud now costs customers $16 per user, per month.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.