Q. Can I run VMware VMs in Azure?
A. This is an interesting question and to answer, its important to take a step back and think about it really means. A VMware VM consists of essentially two things:
- A VM configuration which defines the memory, processor, network, storage used and other configurations, and...
- One or more VMDK files. These are virtual disks that contain the operating system, VMware Tools, and the various drivers and services needed for the guest OS to run in the best way in a VMware virtual environment.
The VM configuration and VMDK files are only usable on a VMware ESX hypervisor. Azure uses Hyper-V for its hypervisor and Hyper-V cannot read a VMware VM configuration file nor a VMDK file. At the time of this writing, Hyper-V does not support nested virtualization - meaning you could not run ESX inside a Hyper-V VM. However most likely customers ask this question because they want to know if their VMware workloads can run in Azure. The short answer is "yes," but through a replication/migration process.
To run a VMware format VM in Azure, the configuration for the VM needs to be converted to a configuration in Azure, the VMDK needs to be converted to a VHD and the VMware Tools need to be removed. There are a number of solutions available to do perform this:
- The Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter (MVMC) is available from http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=42497 and performs an offline conversion from VMware to Hyper-V/Azure format including the removal of the VMware Tools. The conversion can also be automated by using the Migration Automation Toolkit (MAT) available at https://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/Automation-Toolkit-for-d0822a53
- The Microsoft Migration Accelerator is available from http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/products/migration-accelerator/ and it leverages Scout technology to perform a replication from within the guest OS to Azure performing an inherent conversion to the Azure format with minimal downtime. More information on Scout can be found at http://windowsitpro.com/azure/inmage-scout and http://windowsitpro.com/windows/microsoft-migration-accelerator
- 3rd party products such as those from DoubleTake available at http://www.visionsolutions.com/
If the requirement is for DR to Azure from VMware, then Azure Site Recovery (ASR) can be used which also uses the Scout technology for the replication. It also supports falling back to on-premises VMware from Azure. More information on ASR can be found at http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/site-recovery/.