Microsoft Takes Virtualization Game To Next Level5:07 PM EST Fri. Jul. 10, 2009
As Microsoft heads into its Worldwide Partner Conference next week, the looming release of Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 provides the backdrop for a virtualization story that's starting to resonate with channel partners.
With Windows Server 2008 R2, Microsoft's customers can get the benefits of virtualization within their server environments, which is a selling point that makes sense to recession-strapped customers. New features such as Live Migration, which lets administrators move running virtual machines from one system to another system without any perceptible downtime, fill key gaps in Microsoft's virtualization portfolio.
Anthony Vitnell, Senior Solution Architect, Dimension Data Americas, describes Windows Server 2008 R2 virtualization as "a very exciting opportunity" that will significantly reduce the cost of data center hardware provisioning and management. Not only does virtualization save money by reducing hardware and data center space, it also allows customers to leverage existing investments in infrastructure tools and internal Windows server expertise.
"With budgets being so tight in today's economy, operations and training costs play a very large part in the ability to invest in new functionality -- without the need for a large investment in upgrading tools or large amount of technical training for an organization's staff," Vitnell said.
One WPC session will focus on new virtualization business opportunities stemming from specific Windows Server 2008 R2 scenarios, while another will look at solution scenarios enabled by virtualization technologies including server consolidation, high-availability, disaster recovery, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), lab/stage management, and cloud computing.
Chris Rue, CEO of Black Warrior Technology, a Northport, Ala.-based solution provider and Microsoft partner, notes that application vendors are increasingly looking for logically isolated hardware, and virtualization allows organizations to maintain that logical separation, which in turn leads to greater versatility.
"We're seeing the idea of flexibility becoming top of mind for customers, whether that's a hosted solution or virtualized, customers want their data and the current state of the system to be divorced from the underlying system as much as possible," Rue said.
Microsoft says its virtualization portfolio will extend from the desktop all the way to the data center and that there will be opportunities for partners to build applications and offer services in between. That's a point the software giant will continue to make at WPC to counteract the notion that commoditization of virtualization will strike at the heart of channel business models.
"Even though virtualization tool sets are becoming commoditized, the expertise to implement it isn't by any stretch," said Rue. "The ability to deliver virtualization solutions is still a pretty specialized area. You have to optimize the system for the type of workload running on it."
Microsoft watched from the sidelines while virtualization vendors built a bonfire of interest around the technology. And Microsoft waited patiently while virtualization foes like VMware took potshots at its Hyper-V hypervisor. Now, with a maturing virtualization portfolio and an economy that's playing right into its hands, Microsoft is ready to start dishing out some serious payback.