Servers

Microsoft Virtualization Server to Support Xen, VMware

Microsoft has upped the ante in the server virtualization space, which has thus far been primarily dominated by VMware. The Redmond, Wash., software giant has released its System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) 2007 solution, which the company has been working on for the last two years. While SCVMM contains similar features offered by competitor VMware and VMware’s partners, its roadmap is on track to take it even further.

Right now, SCVMM provides systems administrators with a management view of virtual and physical servers, which lets administrators better manage dozens of servers.

“We learned from our customers that managing virtualization encompasses many things — provisioning, monitoring, optimizing, reporting, patching and backup/restore. As we looked at the Microsoft assets across these areas, we created integration with some of the existing tools to help cover all the key scenarios for virtualization,” Chris Stirrat, Microsoft’s leader of the team that built SCVMM, noted in the Windows Virtualization Team Blog.

“We have tight integration with Operations Manager to provide health monitoring, performance monitoring, eventing/alerts, and ultimately the combination of SCVMM and Operations Manager provides a powerful solution to continually optimize your virtualization environment,” he added.

VMware, Xen Support

What does SCVMM really mean for Microsoft and the virtualization management arena?

“It puts Microsoft squarely in the virtualization management space,” Andi Mann, a research director for Enterprise Management Associates, told TechNewsWorld.

“There are two very interesting things about the announcement. The first one is simply that it is coming out to market. They previewed it as long ago as the Microsoft Management Summit [in March], and the preview, I have to say, looked pretty good. It handled some interesting situations with the Microsoft Virtual Server,” Mann explained.

“It’s also particularly interesting that it’s going to support other platforms. This is particularly key and quite frankly exciting. Initially it was slated that the Virtual Machine Manager was only going to support the Microsoft Virtual Server. As part of the announcement, Microsoft talks about including VMware and Xen,” he added.

Competition Heating Up

As enterprises consolidate many separate physical servers into fewer physical servers that can run virtual servers, they run the risk of removing one headache — the proliferation of physical servers — with another, the proliferation of virtual servers. Because of this, being able to effectively manage a wide range of virtual servers is becoming increasingly important to IT administrators.

“If Microsoft is going to support more than just their own virtualization platform, then absolutely they can compete with VMware — because VMware is trying to win that market around virtualization and management of virtualization, and as long as it focuses only on VMware, it’s not going to work, whereas Microsoft is looking to manage the Microsoft, as well as the VMware and the Xen platforms … and that’s quite significant,” Mann explained.

Lots of Testing

Microsoft says it has had more than 32 customers and another 10 partners testing SCVMM, and Microsoft’s own internal IT has been using SCVMM to manage 100 percent of its virtual environment, which contains 86 physical hosts running 1,224 virtual machines in production since Microsoft’s Beta 2.

Microsoft plans to make SCVMM 2007 widely available in October, with additional versions coming as soon as January 2008.

A Step Forward

“A couple of years ago Microsoft had SMS, the systems management tool, and it was pretty single-focused. Then they came out with this whole plan to deliver a range of solutions to manage IT environments, from asset management to configuration management to virtual machine management to service desk, the whole lot, staking their claim as a management player,” Mann noted.

“For a long time analysts and others have been waiting for Microsoft to do stuff. They’ve said a lot of stuff — talking the talk — and we’ve been waiting for them to walk the walk … and this is a pretty big step in that direction,” he added.

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