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4/27/2009
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Microsoft Ramps Up Virtualization Management, Management Services

The company's push into two new areas is expected to be explored at its annual Microsoft Management Summit.

While Microsoft doesn't have the management clout or breadth of capabilities as Hewlett-Packard, IBM, BMC, and CA, it does have unique expertise in its own software, a distinct advantage for a company that finds its logos on a huge majority of workers' computers.

Now, the company intends to push into two new areas: management as a service and private clouds.

This week, the company is expected to announce several new products and features at its annual Microsoft Management Summit, including an online service for managing corporate desktops and improved virtualization and virtualization management technology aimed at helping companies set up their own private clouds.

Management is a fast-growing segment for Microsoft, with overall revenue in the company's System Center line growing by more than 20% even as Microsoft's quarterly revenue dipped last quarter for the first time ever.

Enabling Private Clouds

Virtualization management is exploding, and Microsoft is following fast on the heels of VMware, which last week unveiled vSphere, the next generation of VMware's Virtual Infrastructure virtualization management suite. VSphere is a step toward realizing the company's ambitious Virtual Data Center Operating System initiative, which aims to let customers create and manage cloud computing environments in their own data centers and move workloads among and between both these private and Web-based public clouds in a model becoming known as hybrid clouds.

Microsoft, meanwhile, is playing from behind. According to Forrester Research analyst James Staten, Microsoft remains at least a year behind VMware in terms of virtualization management capabilities. It was also late to release a hypervisor. Microsoft's System Center Virtual Machine Manager has less intelligence about where and how to place workloads, fewer storage optimization capabilities, weaker automation, and more complex fault-tolerance capabilities than VMware.

That's not stopping Microsoft. "We'll be delivering technology that helps build private clouds," Brad Anderson, general manager of Microsoft's management division, said in an interview. "When you go to publish or start up a service or application, you will publish that application into a service, and that service will be able to intelligently figure out where to put that load." Microsoft also intends to enable hybrid clouds.

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