Azure VMware Solution
Azure VMware Solution (AVS) is a VMware validated solution which effectively provides you with a VMware platform, very similar to what you may be running in your own data centre but running in Azure.
What is the Azure VMware solution?
Built on VMware’s Cloud Foundation, AVS is deployed on bare metal servers running in the Azure cloud and in a ‘nutshell’ allows you to run VMware based VM’s in Azure. As this platform is running the ‘normal’ VMware hypervisor, you can seamlessly move workloads back and forth between your data centre and Azure without the need for reconfiguration. This is great if you want to lift and shift vSphere-based workloads to Azure in a non-disruptive, automated, scalable and highly available way all managed via vCenter.
Why Azure VMware Solution?
Microsoft’s Azure VMware Service (AVS) can help you accelerate your journey to the cloud while allowing you to still get the most out of both your Azure and VMware investments. AVS allows you to seamlessly move your VMware-based workloads between the data centre and Azure. Users are then able to manage both environments using the VMware tools they already know, with the added advantage of enabling integration of your environment with Azure native services such as Azure Backup, Azure Security and Sentinel to name a few.
With AVS being built on VMware’s Cloud Foundation it allows you to take advantage of familiar features, such as vMotion and High Availability for service continuity. Alongside this there are the added benefits of vSAN for high performance storage and NSX-T for improved networking and security – all of which are designed to help improve your productivity with elasticity, scale and fast provisioning cycles.
AVS also offers the additional benefit of leveraging the Azure Hybrid Benefit – allowing you to bring your existing Windows Server and SQL Server licences (with Software Assurance) to Azure, along with receiving three years of free extended security updates for any old 2008 and 2008 R2 licences you may still have running in your data centre.
In summary Microsoft’s Azure VMware Solution offers an ideal opportunity for those organisations looking at reducing their footprint in the data centre, decommissioning a second site, and/or are looking at modernising their business continuity and disaster recovery strategies.
Looking under the hood
Unlike native Azure, AVS is licensed per host rather than per VM meaning that depending on your VM workload, the per host model could prove more cost effective than subscribing on a per VM basis.
Each AVS host provides 36 cores, 576 GB of RAM, 15.36 TB of all flash storage and an NVME cache of 3.2 TB
The solution is built on a linear ‘scale out’ architecture for both compute and storage meaning once you hit the resource threshold of the host you simply provision a new host, which can be done usually within 90 minutes.
Even though each host only has 15.36TB of storage the vSAN technology helps you make the most of this with space efficiency features such as deduplication, compression and erasure coding (Raid 5/6), providing up to a 10x reduction in the dataset size.
AVS connects to your data centre using VMware’s HCX (Hybrid Cloud Extension) which is a resource that abstracts your vSphere-based resources and presents them to the applications as one continuous resource, no matter if they are on-premise or in the cloud. HCX acts as a WAN-optimised load-balanced, hybrid interconnect that automates the creation of a network extension which is secure, encrypted and offers high throughput. With HCX hybrid interconnect in place, applications can reside anywhere, independent of the hardware and software underneath.
With VMware’s HCX in place you can use vMotion to migrate any VM from ESXi 5.0* or above over to AVS as simple as moving a VM from any on-premise host server to another with no need to repackage or provisioning for the VM.
*vMotioning VM’s from AVS back to the data centre can only be done ESXi 6.0 and above.