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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.
By platform, Neil said cloud suppliers will need to not just supply remote servers but ways to develop and maintain applications in the cloud. "When it comes to Google or Amazon.com, they have the cloud but what cloud development tools do they supply?" he asked.

"We have a leg up on cloud in development tools. At [Microsoft's] Professional Developers Conference [in Los Angeles Nov. 17-20], we created a cloud application. As part of Visual Studio 10, we built in a test manager solution; it runs in a VM. If you find a bug, you attach the VM to the bug report so the developer can see what the bug did, and doesn't have to repeat the steps that created it."

Microsoft can also use its ADO.net approach to retrieving data and data base objects. In effect it's an API that can grant access to Microsoft SQL Server, to OLE objects or to data that behind an ODBC relational database interface. With one API, cloud users can link to a variety of data sources, also in the cloud, he said. Azure will bring more cloud infrastructure tools, he predicted.

Neil noted that Microsoft is among the supporters of the management interface for virtual machines being worked on by the DMTF standards group. "We built Hyper-V in the DMTF management spec (VMAN), so we're already compliant with that. We plan to support OVF," or the Open Virtualization Format, which lets stored virtual files be moved from one hypervisor to another, offering the information needed to the new host to reactivate the virtual machine.

Neil noted that Microsoft partner, Citrix, has built a Kensho toolset for OVF, which helps construct files in the OVF format. "We see OVF as a way to package up applications for appliances, move them into the cloud. We're waiting for the standard (to mature)," although at this point it's been issued in its 1.0 version by the DMTF. Microsoft enjoys "a close partnership" with Citrix, and the two are working together on a desktop virtualization infrastructure, he said.

Neil noted Microsoft will be pressing another advantage in its approach to virtualization. With the release of Virtual Machine Manager, Microsoft's System Center can manage both Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware ESX Server virtual machines. "Citrix XenServer is on the roadmap. We wanted cross vendor management capabilities. With System Center, you just need one license and one console to manage virtual and physical resources," he said.

For more insight into Microsoft's Azure cloud computing initiative, InformationWeek has prepared an independent analysis. Download the report here (registration required).