VMware's Datacenter OS: Windows isn't the competition

Microsoft archrival VMWare announced this week a set of future technologies called the "Virtual Datacenter OS" that some are comparing with Windows Server 2008. But Windows Server 2008 and its integrated Hyper-V hypervisor aren't what Microsoft is going to be pitting against VMware, Google and Amazon in the brave, new datacenter-centric world

Microsoft archrival VMware announced this week a set of future technologies called the "Virtual Datacenter OS" that some are comparing with Windows Server 2008.

But Windows Server 2008 and its integrated Hyper-V hypervisor aren't what Microsoft is going to be pitting against VMware, Google and Amazon in the brave, new datacenter-centric world. Instead, Microsoft's soon-to-be-unveiled "Zurich" foundational services and its "RedDog" system services are what the Redmondians will be fielding against its cloud competitors.

My ZDNet blogging colleague Paula Rooney has a good overview of the various pieces that comprise VMware's Virtual Datacenter OS.

Look at this architectural diagram of VMware's proposed offering:

VMware’s Datacenter OS: Windows isn’t the competition
Compare it to Microsoft's:

VMware’s Datacenter OS: Windows isn’t the competition

Not so different, are they? (VMware, like Microsoft, is talking about spanning both "on-premise" and "cloud" datacenters. Not too surprising when you remember from where VMware CEO Paul Maritz hails....)

Microsoft is expected to detail at least the mid-tier -- the Zurich services -- at its Professional Developers Conference in late October. I'm hearing most at least some of Microsoft's Zurich deliverables are slated to be released in final form by mid-2009.

At the base level, down at the substrate which Microsoft previously has described as its "Global Foundation Services" layer is where I'm betting RedDog will fit in. These are services like provisioning, networking, security, management, and operations. (Virtualization fits in here, as well, in the context of helping users migrate between the cloud and on-premise and vice versa.) RedDog has been described as the horizontal "cloud OS" that Microsoft is building to power datacenters.

At the next level, "Zurich" -- which Microsoft also has described as the Live Platform services layer -- Microsoft will deliver federated identity, data synchronization, workflow and "relay services." I've been hearing a bit more lately about Relay, which I believe Microsoft also has called "Overlay" services.

Overlay is a peer-to-peer network that will help bridge distributed, parallel systems. Supposedly, Overlay will help Microsoft do everything from load balancing and replication of application states across the network of machines, to providing a discovery framework for Web services to make use of presence and federation services. Elements of the overlay network are expected to be part of .Net 4.0, the next version of Microsoft's .Net Framework.

Bottom line: Don't think Windows Server 2008 is the be-all/end-all of Microsoft's datacenter OS story. There is lots more that the company still won't discuss publicly, but is known to be happening in the background.

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