Microsoft Powers Up Virtual Management

Arthur Cole

Give Microsoft credit for one thing: When it does something, it rarely goes halfway. Having already prepped the IT industry for its version of virtualization with the Hyper-V system, the company has now turned its focus on managing the new environment.


The company unveiled a slew of new management systems for enterprise networks this week, with a heavy dose of tools designed to keep tabs on multiple virtual machines and storage partitions. At the same time, the company offered a major olive leaf to the open source community.


The chief release is the beta version of the Systems Center Operations Manager 2007 Cross Platform Extensions. The stack is billed as an end-to-end systems management and monitoring system for both physical and virtual systems. Microsoft made a point of showing that it hopes to work within the wider IT community by incorporating numerous open source protocols such as Web Services Management (WS-Management) and OpenPegasus, as well as multi-platform support for HP-UX, RHEL, Sun Solaris and SuSE Linux.


Also on tap is the System Center Virtual Machine Manager, which provides for central management of the virtual infrastructure and the means to configure and deploy virtual machines using Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 or VMware ESX Server (Xen support will come later). A key feature here is Performance and Resource Optimization (PRO), a sort of management assistant that scans the network looking for ways to optimize the use of network resources.


The new system represents a bold admission by Microsoft that it's willing to work with the open source community, according to eWEEK's Jeffrey Burt. He quotes Larry Orecklin, Microsoft's general manager for server infrastructure, as basically saying there's more money to be had by working within the community than above it:

"The No. 1 request [from customers] is to help leverage what they have with [Microsoft's] system management to non-Windows environments."

Microsoft has already lined up networking support for Systems Center, with Emulex offering up both the 4G and 8G versions of its LightPulse HBA. Using a specially designed management pack for the PRO feature, enterprises will be able to extend their monitor and control capabilities of Virtual Machine Manager all the way to the SAN.


Third-party developers are also coming up with ways to extend management to virtual desktops. Quest Software just extended support for Hyper-V on its Provision Networks Virtual Access Suite, providing desktop lifecycle and power management for Windows Server 2008. The system also enables application streaming by supporting Microsoft Application Virtualization and can be rigged for large-scale deployments through Windows Server Terminal Services. No word yet on whether Quest will further tweak its software for the Systems Center platform.

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