Microsoft touts virtualisation lineup

At its Worldwide Partner Conference 2008, the company revealed a collection of products that it hopes will capture the server virtualisation market

Microsoft has announced a collection of virtualisation products that the company said demonstrates its interest in capturing the server virtualisation market.

During his keynote on Wednesday at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference 2008 in Houston, Texas, Bob Kelly, corporate vice president of infrastructure server marketing, said the company intends to capture the vast majority of servers that are not running virtualisation technology.

To that end, Kelly announced a set of new virtualisation products, starting with the company's hypervisor virtualisation system, Hyper-V for Windows Server 2008, that is available via Windows Update.

He added that Hyper-V would cost a third of the price of the competing offering from VMware.

Kelly also announced two other virtualisation products, slated for launch on 8 September this year, which are currently in beta version: System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) 2008 and Microsoft Application Virtualization.

Microsoft had made reference to a 'management tool' for virtualisation management — seemingly SCVMM — during the February launch of Windows Server 2008, which the company claimed would help bring virtualisation to more servers by easing implementation.

Analyst firm IDC said pushing management tools will speed adoption of virtualisation. Stephen Elliot, research director for the firm's enterprise systems management software and IT management service division, said requests for management tools will remain at the top of customer wish lists for the next two years.

"Managing physical infrastructure is easier than managing virtual infrastructure today, because there aren't enough tools for virtual architecture," said Elliot, during a presentation at the conference. The analyst added that managing virtualisation on the business end will also be of great concern to IT managers.

"Many companies are still trying to determine management disciplines around [virtualisation]," he said.

Elliot said Microsoft's efforts at pushing virtualisation will see the Windows Server platform dominate the server virtualisation market, with a 58.2 percent share, by 2012. The analyst noted that this will displace open-source operating systems from their collective market lead of 50 percent in 2007, to 31.2 percent by 2012.

Elliot said virtualisation will be "key in future datacentre build-outs", as hardware spending flattens through to 2010 but administration costs quadruple and power and cooling costs go up by eight times.

Virtualisation, which has been heralded for its ability to increase datacentre efficiency, is expected to play a big part in addressing the energy crunch, he said.

He advised customers to think, amid the marketing hype around hypervisor technology, "more strategically along the application stack" and the cost savings that could be accrued from this approach.

In addition, developers should "step up" and factor in virtualisation compatibility in their application development, Elliot said.

Other product announcements
In addition to the new virtualisation products, Microsoft's Kelly also revealed that SQL Server 2008 will be available in August with no price increase.

Two server suites are also now available in release candidate 1 (RC1) versions: Windows Small Business Server 2008 and Windows Essential Business Server 2008. Their commercial launch is set for 12 November, 2008.


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