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Microsoft Says Management is Key to Virtualization

PCWorld magazine posted a really interesting article saying that Microsoft is targeting systems management as a way for it to differentiate itself from its virtualization platform competitors. 

Anticipating that the market for virtualization software, such as Microsoft's Hyper-V, eventually will be commoditized, the company sees management as the key revenue opportunity for competitors offering server virtualization, said Windows Enterprise and Management Division General Manager Larry Orecklin, speaking to reporters on Microsoft's campus Tuesday.

"Management becomes really the thing we believe is critical to ensuring customers can get full value from the virtualization opportunity," he said.

Orecklin said that for all the hype around virtualization, less than 10 percent of data centers are virtualized today, according to research firm IDC. The reason for the slow adoption is that once companies began to virtualize their environments, they realized that the economics and logistics of managing them was quite difficult, he said.

To that end, Microsoft is going to make virtualization management the cornerstone of its virtualization strategy, and even open up its management platform to manage competitor solutions such as those from VMware and Citrix.  As of right now, the Virtual Machine Manager product only manages Virtual Server.  However, once Hyper-V is released, the management applications is expected to add support for both Hyper-V and VMware ESX with support for Xen somewhere thereafter.  Microsoft plans to outline its virtualization strategy further at its Microsoft Management Summit next week.  So keep an eye out for more information at that time.

Published Wednesday, April 23, 2008 6:01 AM by David Marshall
Comments
» Microsoft Says Management is Key to Virtualization - (Author's Link) - April 23, 2008 7:20 AM
Steve Henning - (Author's Link) - May 1, 2008 6:56 PM

From what I've seen of them, Microsoft's announced plans for are still not going to help solve the real issues facing Operations teams in managing the performance of mission critical IT systems that have been virtualized. So far, all I see is a "me too" play with the plan to manage competitive hypervisors. Lets also note that the Big 4 system management vendors all have added capabilities to manage virtual environments. Of course, all these vendor's offerings fall short because they are still using traditional system management approaches.

It is clear that the complexity of virtualized data centers will require huge labor costs for performance management with existing approaches. It is difficult enough to figure out what is causing application performance problems in the physical server environment, nevermind what happens when certain application components are virtualized. The complex interactions between the hypervisor, guest O/S and applications running in a virtual machine increase the management complexity considerably. Unless a new approach is taken, the cost savings gained by server consolidation will quickly be overrun by increased management costs. The current approach, using static-threshold based monitoring and tribal knowledge-based, human correlation to solve problems in an environment with thousands of virtual machines and hundreds of thousands of performance metrics just won't scale. The problem is humanly unsolveable and more and more IT Operations executives have realized this and are looking at a new approach. Real time analytics solutions are now available that can automate much of the manual effort that goes into performance management and even predict performance problems so that they can be prevented before they occur. If Microsoft had announced plans to provide this type of capability (which has been ignored by the Big 4, with the exception of BMC's acquisition of Proactivenet) in addition to standard monitoring for virtualized environments, I would have been much more impressed with their plans.

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