Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Microsoft bows under Virtualization Pressure

One can argue that as Microsoft goes, so does the industry.  But, more and more, Microsoft is under pressure to bow to the industry.  Chinks in the armor started to appear with the dawn of the web.  Netscape took the immediate lead.  But, Microsoft countered, as they typically do, and won with IE. 

The typo modus operandi for Microsoft, IMHO, is this.  A new technology emerges and Microsoft is late to market with an inferior product.  They finally wake up and try to build a better mouse trap.  typically, they fail.  So they do the next best thing.  They buy one of the major players.

However, this MO is not working for them lately.  You saw this with open source, specifically Linux.  Microsoft is not able to defeat Linux, so they bought one of the leaders.  Ok, so they didn't buy Novell, but they are certainly beholden to Microsoft now.  And, let's not forget their attempt to kill Linux by throwing millions into SCO.  You will notice, however, that they have recently taken a softer stance on open source and are trying to be better IT citizens.

It is happening again in the world of search engines.  Google is kicking their proverbial ass.  So, they tried to make a superior product (MSN) and are failing.  Next step?  Buy the major competitor to Google:  Yahoo!.  But, that didn't happen.  So, we will see what happens next.

Let's move on to the meat of this post:  Virtualization.  Microsoft was late to the space.  VMware has 87% of the market and continues to innovate.  Meanwhile, Xen (Citrix) is the open source player who could also threaten.  Microsoft tried for a long time to squash it and their licensing and support models gave no room for VMware to be a part of a Microsoft-run data center.  So, first they innovate.  Virtual Server was a lame attempt.  Now, however, this Hyper-V product was a second shot and it may well be the first time in a long time that their product is actually BETTER than the competition.  Time will tell.

But,the news is that Microsoft realizes that Virtualization is here to stay.  To that end, they announced major changes to their licensing and support policies for 41 applications.  Here are the details:

    • OLD:  No support for VMs.  If you have a problem, you must be able to duplicate it on a physical server.
    • NEW:  MS will now support 41 applications (SQL Server, Exchange, IIS, etc) in a VM.  VMware is currently not in the program.  But, that will change shortly.\, I imagine.
    • OLD:  The old policy stated that software was linked to a physical server and could only be moved once every 90 days, a definite challenge in the virtualization world.
    • NEW:  This policy is gone.  Applications can be moved dynamically.

Good news for everyone! 

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