Microsoft has gone on the offensive saying its first virtual machine management tool would ship next month and spinning its virtualization wares and strategy days ahead of rival VMware's annual conference scheduled for next week.
Microsoft is pushing a strategy around a single management console as the hub for any number of virtualisation options whether they reside on the server or desktop. To that end, the company said development of its Systems Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) 2007, for managing virtual machines running of Virtual Server 2007 R2, is complete and the software will ship next month.
VMM helps maximise physical server utilisation, and centralise management and provisioning of virtual machines. The software also helps manage physical servers and is a core piece of Microsoft's emerging Windows-centric management platform under its Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI).
Critics say the company's tactic is to push a holistic approach to managing server and desktop virtualisation from a central point and to shield its current lack of a viable server virtualisation product with a smoke screen centered on its desktop technologies -- Virtual PC, Softricity Applications Virtualisation and Terminal Services.
Microsoft says Terminal Services will get new features, including application remoting, when Windows Server 2008 ships early next year.
"If you look at how people think about virtualised desktops a lot of the conversation is about hosting the application in one place and remoting it to another," says David Greschler, director of integrated virtualisation strategy at Microsoft. " More broadly, we think Terminal Services takes on a new context as we start to think about getting people the resources they need in real time."
While Microsoft focuses on the desktop, Greschler acknowledges the company is "not the leader" ahead of VMware on the server.
In fact, Microsoft won't ship its hypervisor add-on to Windows Server 2008, currently called Windows Server Virtualisation, until the latter half of 2008.
For now, Microsoft is putting on the best face that it has and looking out into the future when the hypervisor may well be a commodity and Microsoft's big ticket might be an integrated management platform for both physical and virtual platforms.
As part of its broad DSI initiative, VMM integrates with both Operations Manager 2007 and Configuration Manager 2007. It also integrates with Data Protection Manager 2005, and Microsoft is wrapping those three products and VMM into a bundle called System Center Server Management Suite Enterprise, which is priced at US$860.
The suite is licensed to include support for an unlimited number of guest operating systems per server. Users will also need to commit to a two-year Software Assurance maintenance contract.
Microsoft also plans to create a mid-market version called System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2007 Workgroup Edition that supports up to five physical host servers and an unlimited number of virtual machines. The Workgroup Edition is priced at US$499 and will ship in January 2008.