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11/24/2008
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Microsoft's Virtualization Chief: Watch For Us In The Cloud

Microsoft is positioning its Hyper-V hypervisor and Virtual Machine Manager component of Microsoft's System Center for on premises and in the cloud support.

Microsoft is taking steps to mesh its virtualization software with its cloud computing endeavors.

In a recent interview, Mike Neil, Microsoft's general manager of virtualization, said the Hyper-V hypervisor and Virtual Machine Manager component of Microsoft's System Center are designed to support virtualization both on premises and in the cloud.

Neil paused in a busy day of talking to the press after delivering a keynote at the Sys-Con Virtualization Conference and Expo in San Jose Nov. 21. In a Waggener Edstrom Public Relations office not far from the San Francisco Giant's new ballpark, he talked about Microsoft's virtualization initiatives and how they may evolve to support cloud computing.

First he claimed it was one-third price to manage a virtual machine environment under Windows Server 2008 and Systems Center's Virtual Machine Manager versus VMware. But he said it wasn't Microsoft's goal to gain market share through lower license fees. "We don't look at it as a matter of us taking customers from VMware. We look at it as a matter of how do we grow the pie," he said.

With Hyper-V now available either independently or as part of Windows Server 2008, and Virtual Machine Manager available since late October, Microsoft's "ISV community is excited about the new possibilities," and can be expected to generate new applications that are design for a managed, virtualized environment, he said.

Some of those applications are almost surely going to be cloud-based. One example Neil gave was the Louisville, Ky., hosting service, Maximum ASP. It's come up with MaxV, a cloud computing service that runs Hyper-V virtual servers. They will take a bundled application and operating system based on the Microsoft/Citrix Systems VHD format and run it as a Hyper-V server, adding such services as high availability through clustering, SAN storage and nightly backups. Customers can have root administrative access to their virtual server. The service has a price tag of $99 a month.

Neil said Microsoft's virtualization and cloud computing strategy was clearer with the announcement of Windows Azure Cloud Infrastructure tools. "It's not just hosting in the cloud. It's establishing a platform in the cloud. We want to store data in the cloud, run programs, supply access control and identity management, and control the workflow.

"On premises, you can buy SAP apps and run them under Windows... If SAP is to provide a cloud version, then you need a platform in the cloud to run it on, with scalable data services, federated identity and other services. Microsoft has been talking about 'software and services,' but it hasn't been clear how that works. With the Azure platform, it's clearer. Software and services together make good sense," Neil said.

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