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VMware Horizon Cloud support for Microsoft Azure gives IT flexibility

VMware bolstered its partnership with Microsoft this week by adding support for Azure to Horizon Cloud. Organizations that want to manage both cloud and on-premises desktops now have a plethora of options.

VMware Horizon Cloud support for Azure brings more flexibility to IT shops in need hybrid offerings that manage virtual resources on premises and in the cloud.

VMware's cloud desktop delivery product will support Microsoft Azure for hosting virtualized apps in the second half of this year and for virtual desktops in early 2018. Businesses that use VMware Horizon Cloud now have more options when choosing a public cloud, and Azure support may even make potential customers take a closer look at adopting Horizon Cloud. Azure is one of the most prevalent cloud services, and VMware received requests from customers for its support, the company said.

"This is good for IT and VMware," said Robert Young, research director at IDC. "Customers want to run their workloads in Azure."

Horizon Cloud expands options

In addition to Microsoft's Azure cloud service, VMware Horizon Cloud already supports IBM SoftLayer. Organizations may opt to use one cloud service over the other, or choose to use multiple services, said Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst of Moor Insights and Strategy in Austin, Texas.

Still, not all organizations are willing to completely commit to cloud. Many want to continue to use their on-premises infrastructure, and products such as Horizon Cloud allow companies to do both.

For the VMware user community, this is a great option and helps protect their investment.
Allen FalconCEO of Cumulus Global

"VMware Horizon Cloud's availability on Azure gives IT teams ... more options and an easier path to create a hybrid cloud [or] on-premises environment," said Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global, a Microsoft partner in Westborough, Mass. "For the VMware user community, this is a great option and helps protect their investment."

Managing cloud-hosted and on-premises desktops and apps from the same cloud-based dashboard minimizes complexity for IT.

"People don't want to put management on premises anymore," Young said. "The control plane in the cloud is important because it ... will be updated by the vendor."

Organizations that use a public cloud such as Azure for the back end, rather than on-premises infrastructure that's composed of pieces from multiple vendors, can minimize the support calls they need to make when problems arise. Just one vendor is on the hook for it, said Mehran Basiratmand, CTO of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Fla.

"It helps IT to have a single and more uniform support," he said.

Microsoft in the mix

More than 90% of the Fortune 100 uses Microsoft Azure, and the company is adding roughly 120,000 Azure customers a month, Microsoft said.

Adding support for Azure keeps VMware in the conversation at organizations that currently use or plan to use Microsoft Azure and are considering cloud-hosted desktop products, said Rory Monaghan, an independent consultant in Phoenix.

"This is a smart move by VMware," Monaghan said. "Azure has established itself. Many current VMware customers are or will also be Azure customers."

Citrix Cloud, a similar hybrid cloud-hosted desktop offering, already supports Azure. VMware's top competitor announced that addition a year ago in May 2016 as part of its revamped partnership with Microsoft involving integration between several core products.

In the past year, VMware has integrated with Microsoft products, as well. The companies in October 2016 collaborated to deliver a better Skype for Business experience on VDI, after Citrix did so eight months earlier. In the same month, VMware AirWatch announced unified endpoint management support for Windows 10.

The announcement of Horizon Cloud on Azure came just a week ahead of the Citrix Synergy 2017 conference, which is expected to feature more integration between Citrix and Microsoft.

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