Microsoft in the Shadows at VMworld

Microsoft is at VMworld in San Francisco this week, but it can't show off its Hyper-V virtualization product because it competes with VMware's products.

The restriction comes from VMware itself, which put its marketing dollars into the show. However, to hear Redmond tell it, Microsoft is holding out in a 10-foot by 10-foot booth at VMworld mostly to reach out to Windows customers.

Microsoft is also taking the high road, touting Windows Azure, its cloud computing platform, as the next level of efficiency beyond virtualization.

"Virtualization clearly plays a role in enabling this move toward more agile IT services by simplifying the deployment and management of desktops and datacenters," said Edwin Yuen, director of Microsoft virtualization, in a blog post. "It's a stepping stone to the cloud."

Microsoft will demonstrate Windows Azure at VMworld because VMware doesn't offer a competing cloud computing platform, according to an InfoWorld article. Microsoft also planned to discuss Outback Steakhouse's use of Windows Azure at the show. The restaurant chain used Windows Azure to support a marketing campaign.

Meanwhile, VMware CEO Paul Maritz (and a former Microsoft executive) mentioned Tasty Kake as a VMware customer during the Day-1 keynote talk, according to this blog summary.

Microsoft's main message at VMworld was through an "open letter" advertisement placed in USA Today. The letter included comments from Brad Anderson, a corporate vice president in Microsoft's Server and Tools Business. The message, in essence, is that "with the arrival of cloud computing, VMware cannot provide them [its customers] with the breadth of technology, flexibility or scale that they will need to build a complete cloud computing environment," according to a summary by Peter Galli, open source community manager for Microsoft's Platform Strategy Group, in a blog post.

"Most importantly, as you build out the next generation of your IT environment, we can provide you with scalable world-wide public cloud computing services that VMware does not offer," Anderson said in the letter, according to Galli's post (the link to the letter didn't work at press time).

Anderson also suggests in the letter that signing up with VMware entails a three-year vendor lock-in, according to a blog by veteran Microsoft observer Mary-Jo Foley. She noted the irony of Microsoft warning of vendor lock-in, a phrase sometimes reserved for Microsoft itself.

Galli reiterated the idea that Windows Azure is an "open platform," enabling the use of multiple development frameworks in addition to Microsoft's .NET Framework. However, vendor lock-in with cloud computing platforms tends to be a complex topic. Users may still experience vendor lock-in with cloud platforms due to lack of standardization and the differing cloud technologies employed.

Meanwhile, VMware announced several new products at VMworld today. The new vCloud Director solution enables users of the VMware vSphere virtualization platform to create "virtual datacenters." These virtual datacenters are "logical pools of compute, network and storage resources with defined management policies, SLAs and pricing," according to VMware's announcement.

VMware plans to launch VMware View 4.5 in the coming weeks, which is an updated desktop management and delivery solution. VMware also unveiled three new security products for the IT infrastructure, including vShield Edge, vShield App and vShield Endpoint.

VMware rolled out something of interest for Java developers who use the open Spring Framework. A new VMware vFabric platform integrates the Spring Framework to help speed Java application development efforts.

There were a couple of partner announcements at the event. HP and VMware have teamed up on an HP Cloud Map for VMware vCloud Director solution. This solution is designed to enable better hardware management using the HP BladeSystem Matrix.

Verizon and VMware formed a partnership to test a new private-public cloud service for enterprises that uses VMware's VSphere virtualization platform. This service supposedly will help organizations securely tap IT as a service, allowing them to take what they need from the public Internet cloud.

Finally, VMware announced at the show that it had "entered into definitive agreements" for a couple of acquisitions. It plans to buy Integrien, a provider of performance analytics software, and TriCipher, a supplier of federation and access management solutions for software-as-a-service applications. 

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About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.