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Watching Microsoft Positioning its V12N Offers

Today's a holiday that acts as a seasonal bookmark and starting gun. For all intents and purposes, everyone's back from the summer holiday, and about to kick into high gear. And with VMworld 2008 coming up in two weeks, we can all figure on getting bombarded with announcements from the ecosystem that relies on VMware.

Then, there are the alternate universes built around Xen and, as a universe unto itself, Microsoft. On Sept. 8, Microsoft is sponsoring a (re-)launch event that's clearly designed to steal some thunder. Here's CIO.com's take on it. The aspect that caught my eye is the emphasis on management of virtualized infrastructures ... manageable with "the same tools you're already using for your physical infrastructure."

Does anyone with experience in putting together a working server virtualization project actually believe that statement?

In the VMware ecosystem, a recently published (vendor-sponsored) survey reports that for infrastructure reporting, 35% use the same tools as as the physical environment, while 22% use VMware's management system (VirtualCenter), and 2% a third-party's solution. (What's not clear is how many of these are in-house "experiments" and how many are mission-critical deployments. ) What we will see this fall are announcements from a wide range of players who want to "fill the virtualization management gaps" in the VMware ecosystem. (Replicate will be no exception. We've staked out our part of that territory!)

But, what does this claim mean when uttered by Microsoft regarding Hyper-V? It suggests a time-honored Microsoft business model: Sell the hypervisor at a very low (give-away ?) price, then incorporate the requisite enhancements and functionality needed for Hyper-V into rather costly management systems. This approach has certainly worked for MSFT in the past as they addressed the corporate IT market for database, application, and workplace collaboration systems.

It makes me wonder just how open a marketplace will exist for Hyper-V infrastructure management.

Microsoft Starts Virtualization Hype Blitz - CIO.com - Business Technology Leadership

The question is whether Microsoft's content is worth the time and attention.

In general, the answer is probably yes. Microsoft's virtualization software still doesn't compare to VMware's, according to most of the experts I talk to, but it's much closer than a major Microsoft product could be expected to be at this stage of its development.

Even Microsoft can't hold center stage just talking about a hypervisor that's already been released, though. Even offering exclusive or semi-exclusive interviews with rarely accessible top Microsoft execs—which Microsoft is currently doing with both Kevin Turner and Bob Muglia—won't guarantee the amount of space needed to affect the potential impact of VMworld.

So Microsoft's expanding to take on the rest of the virtualization universe as well. The event materials it posted and distributed to the press say the company will roll out new products designed to build virtual infrastructures "from the data center to the desktop," that are manageable with "the same tools you're already using for your physical infrastructure."

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