Steadily, and without much fanfare, Microsoft is transforming itself in the enterprise. Where once the company's ambitions seemed to be squarely focused on replacing every system in the enterprise with a Windows-based offering, Microsoft now appears to be pursuing a more mature Windows-centric approach to enterprise computing that acknowledges the importance of interoperability.
Admittedly, the evidence supporting this conclusion is limited. Most recently, Microsoft has decided to worked closely with Likewise Software to extend the Microsoft Server Message Block (SMB) protocol out to UNIX storage systems, which will manifest itself in the company's forthcoming Windows Server 8 platform.
The idea, says Likewise CEO Barry Crist, is to allow IT organizations to take advantage of a much more sophisticated version 2.2 of the SMB protocol that makes use of parallelization to dramtically improve I/O performance on Windows Server 8.
Prior to that, Microsoft announced support for the open-source OpenStack management platform, while at the same time releasing a version of System Center 2012 software that manages both Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware virtual machine software.
But Ion Gott, managing director for the Microsoft practice at DynTek Services, a Microsoft Gold partner that provides IT services, says this is only the beginning of a larger trend. In the near future, he says Microsoft will also add support for Citrix Xen Server. Gott says that the significance of all this is that Microsoft is now thinking at a higher level about the enterprise. In fact, Gott says the most strategic technology that Microsoft will include in Windows Server 8 is Opalis process automation technology based on code the company gained access to when it acquired Opalis Software in 2009.
According to Gott, Microsoft's real ambition is to win the management battle in the enterprise by laying the foundation for a hybrid cloud computing model that will be enabled by a raft of new management tools that will be embedded in Windows Server 8. How that will manifest itself remains to be seen. But Microsoft is clearly sending enough signals to indicate it's serious about changing its enterprise computing strategy in a way that suggests a growing amount of maturity.