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A look inside a Microsoft data center in Cheyenne, Wyo. (Microsoft Photo)

Years after VMware cut a ground-breaking cloud deal with Amazon Web Services that helped make the hybrid cloud a reality, it has struck a similar partnership with Microsoft.

Companies running applications built for VMware’s virtualized data center software will be able to run those same apps on Microsoft Azure, the two companies announced Monday at Dell Technologies World. Azure VMware Solutions is generally available and promises to “enable customers to extend and redeploy their VMware workloads natively on Azure dedicated hardware without having to refactor their applications,” wrote Microsoft’s Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of its Cloud and Enterprise group, in a blog post.

The initial rush to public cloud computing implied that all workloads would swiftly move into the data centers of cloud providers, but that hasn’t exactly worked out in practice. Cloud sales teams have accepted that lots of on-premises applications developed years ago around VMware’s technology are unsuitable for cloud environments, and have begun working closely with traditional providers of data center hardware and software to create hybrid cloud products that theoretically offer the best of both worlds.

So while VMware once considered cloud providers an existential threat, the fruits of a wide-ranging partnership with AWS first announced in 2016 changed its tune. Over the last several years, that partnership has produced several products that let mutual customers of the two companies manage their applications across their own data centers and AWS, and VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger and AWS CEO Andy Jassy often share the stage at industry events to showcase their work.

Now Microsoft has a product for those customers that should help blunt AWS’s advantage with hybrid cloud customers that use VMware’s software to manage critical applications. Microsoft also offers hybrid cloud customers a product and service called Azure Stack, which allows companies that are updating their on-premises infrastructure to purchase hardware with software support for Azure services.

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