Microsoft and Virtualisation

Microsoft officials are putting virtualisation on center stage at their TechEd 2008 Professionals show here, though attendees shouldn’t expect to see the company’s Hyper-V technology. In his keynote June 10 to an expected 10,000 attendees, Bob Muglia, senior vice president of Microsoft’s Server and Tools Business, will outline a number of new and upgraded software and services the software vendor is offering as it grows its virtualisation capabilities and extends its Dynamic IT initiative. Key goals of the initiative are to lower the cost of IT for businesses while driving up flexibility and ease of use through such steps as greater automation and integration, Bob Kelly, corporate vice president of infrastructure server marketing at Microsoft, said in an interview days before the show. Virtualisation is a key enabler of that vision, Kelly said. With a Virtualised Server from UKFast, you can lower the cost of hosting your business online, as fewer physical servers ensures a reduction in hardware maintenance costs. Microsoft’s continued march into the virtualisation space is giving enterprises three major vendors—VMware and Citrix with its open-source Xen offerings—from which to choose virtualization technology. Kelly said businesses are beginning to see that virtualisation—once aimed primarily at server consolidation projects inside data centers—is now touching almost every aspect of IT, from I/O to desktops to applications and services. “The reality is that virtualisation is a technology that can be used in many ways,” he said. “Virtualisation is a very big piece of our strategy.” In his keynote, Muglia will announce Microsoft’s Server Virtualisation Validation Program, designed to enable software vendors to test and validate their virtualisation software to run Windows Server 2008 as well as earlier versions of the operating system. Muglia also will announce that Release Candidate 1 of the company’s Application Virtualization version 4.5 will be available to customers within a month. The new version of the software is a continuation of Microsoft’s leverage its 2006 acquisition of Softricity, which brought greater virtualisation management capabilities to Microsoft, Kelly said. The deal was key to enabling Microsoft to virtualize at the application layer, and the new version of the software will enable businesses to deploy two incompatible versions of Office within the same physical server, he said. Microsoft also is growing the virtualisation capabilities in its Forefront security offering, Kelly said. The Forefront Client Security offering will support Hyper-V when the virtualisation technology is released, and greater support for Hyper-V through the Forefront line of products when the next generation security suite—codenamed “Stirling”—is released in the first half of 2009. Kelly also said that Hyper-V is on track to be released within 180 days of the release of Windows Server 2008, which was launched in February. In addition, Microsoft is offering four new virtualization certifications for such IT professionals as desktop support technicians, database administrators and Web developers. The certifications will cover Hyper-V, Microsoft’s Desktop Optimisation Pack, Systems Center Virtual Machine Manager and Windows Server 2008 Application Infrastructure. Kelly said businesses are looking for help in managing their growing virtual environments, which is where Microsoft is putting a lot of its efforts. For example, its System Center Virtual Machine Manager can also manage virtual machines created in VMware and Xen environments. That capability not only gives businesses more choices in their virtualisation environments, but also gives Microsoft some leverage in its efforts to take customers away from VMware. Muglia also will make a host of other non-virtualisation-related announcements, including the availability of the beta of Identity Lifecycle Manager 2, SQL Sever 2008 Release Candidate, .Net Configuration Server 2.0, Forefront Security for Office Communications Server Beta 1 and Forefront Client Security support for Windows Server 2008.

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