Taking the Long View on Virtualization

Michael Vizard

Microsoft thinks customers should take a strategic view of virtualization.

While virtualization has been around for well over 20 years, the technology has only recently gone mainstream. As a result, David Greschler, director of virtualization strategy for Microsoft, says we're entering a period of rapid virtualization advancement that will once and for all show that virtual machine software is more of an enabling technology, as opposed to a product you need to buy.

Of course, Microsoft is already down that path with the bundling of Microsoft Hyper-V virtual machine software with its Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 platform. But Greschler also points out that Microsoft is taking a more heterogeneous approach to virtualization in the form of Systems Center software that can already manage both Hyper-V and VMware virtual machines. And IT organizations should not be too surprised to see Microsoft expand that support going forward, especially when you consider how close Microsoft and Citrix are.

In addition, Greschler notes that there are multiple types of virtualization. For example, Microsoft recently previewed more advanced application virtualization technology running on its server that it plans to roll out in 2011. Arguably, says Greschler, IT organizations are going to find it more efficient and cost-effective to virtualize at the application level, as opposed to paying for a new stack of software to manage a particular virtual machine environment. Given those forthcoming advancements, Greschler says IT organizations might want to think about virtualization in terms of tiers of deployment.

Obviously, Microsoft is the challenger. As such, it can afford to take a more open approach to virtualization compared to an incumbent like VMware. But as cloud computing evolves, Greschler says IT organizations will definitely come to see virtualization more as a feature that is embedded in various platforms. In addition, as cloud computing evolves it will become necessary to engage with multiple forms of virtualization running on private and public cloud computing platforms that will come from vendors all across the IT spectrum.

So before betting everything on one vendor, Greschler says IT organizations should take a longer view of where virtualization is heading. Once they do, they might even discover the irony of how open Microsoft plans to be as we move forward into the age of virtualization and cloud computing.

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