Microsoft unveils app to manage virtual machines

Licensing change accompanies release of System Centre Virtual Machine Manager

Microsoft has released its first software designed specifically to manage virtual machines on a network, and has tweaked licensing for its system-management products to take virtualisation into account.

System Centre Virtual Machine Manager 2007, which has been in the works for about a year and a half, has been released to manufacturing and will be generally available in October as part of Microsoft’s System Server Management Centre suite of products.

The new product is built on the same architecture as other products in the enterprise version of the suite — which include Data Protection Manager, Operations Manager and Configuration Manager — and is aimed specifically at managing virtual machines in a datacentre that runs Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2, the current version of Microsoft’s server virtualisation technology, says Patrick O’Rourke, Microsoft’s group manager for Windows Infrastructure. “Customers can now use the same tools to manage both virtual and physical assets [on the network],” he says. Microsoft also has changed the licensing for its for its System Centre Server Management Suite Enterprise, making it available per host server, which means the actual server that hosts any instances of virtual software.

Previously, System Centre software was licensed per device being managed in the datacentre, O’Rourke says. The new licensing should make managing virtualised environments with Microsoft’s software more cost-effective for customers, he says.

Microsoft has been developing and fine-tuning its virtualisation strategy over the past several years to keep up with virtualisation leader VMWare and others, as well as to serve the needs of large customers who increasingly are using virtualisation in their datacentres. However, the company’s strategy has predictably hit some road bumps.

Microsoft is developing next-generation virtualisation technology, code-named Viridian, that takes advantage of virtualisation-optimised processors from Intel and AMD and will help keep the company up to speed with competitors. However, though Viridian will be a component of Windows Server 2008, it won’t be available until six months after that new OS is released. And since Microsoft recently pushed back the release of Windows Server 2008 to the first quarter of next year, Viridian’s release is nearly a year away. The company also decided earlier this year to pull out some originally planned features of Viridian, due to timing concerns.

In the meantime, customers can use a combination of Microsoft’s stand-alone Virtual Server and its System Centre products to install and manage both virtual and physical machines in the datacentre. Microsoft also is planning a mid-market version of Virtual Machine Manager, called Workgroup edition, for release in January.

Redmond also plans to extend the capabilities of the next version of Virtual Machine Manager so it not only supports Windows Server virtualisation, but also third-party virtualisation from VMware and XenSource, O’Rourke says. A beta of that software is expected to be available around the same time as Windows Server 2008, and Microsoft plans to update its roadmap then as well.

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Tags technologyMicrosoftsystem centre virtual machine manager

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