Microsoft and VMware Debut New Virtualization Offerings

The virtualization marketplace heated up this week with announcements from both Microsoft and chief competitor VMware. Both announcements came at VMware's VMworld conference in Los Angeles.

Microsoft this week introduced its Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) Test Drive Program. The Test Drive is a bundle of trial software that enables customers to try out Microsoft virtualization technologies in real world environments with third-party developers' pre-configured applications. Microsoft's Test Drive is similar in concept to an offering that VMware announced a year ago.

VHD is Microsoft's virtualization file format, which the company has been encouraging third-party developers to adopt. It is a direct competitor to Palo Alto, Calif.-based VMware's Open Virtual Machine Disk Format.

The VHD Test Drive program provides a package that contains a bundle of trial Microsoft enterprise products along with pre-built and pre-configured third-party applications in VHD format aimed at giving IT shops the ability to try before they buy.

"This program enables Microsoft and its partners to distribute their enterprise software and applications within a virtual machine so that IT professionals can confidently and quickly evaluate Windows Server-based software," Mike Neil, senior director of virtualization strategy in Microsoft's Windows Server Division, said in a statement. A similar program for Windows Vista will be available in the first quarter of 2007

The program provides evaluation versions of Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition, SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition SP1, Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 (32-bit beta) with Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005 and Internet Security & Acceleration (ISA) 2006 Standard Edition. Microsoft claims more than 20 partners will begin distributing their software via the VHD Test Drive Program later this quarter, including Altiris, BEA Systems, Check Point, Citrix, CommVault, Dell, FullArmor, HP, Network Appliance, Platespin, Portlock, Quest Software, SourceCode Technology Holdings, Symantec and UGS.

Meanwhile, VMware announced the public beta of its new testing product -- VMware Lab Manager. The product, which is targeted at enterprise software development organizations, aims to more efficiently take advantage of software development and test lab assets, accelerate software development cycles and increase the quality of delivered software products, according to a company statement.

Lab Manager is designed to provide IT shops with "closed-loop" defect reporting, troubleshooting and resolution. It uses a shared pool of server, networking and other software lab resources and allocates them to teams on an as-needed basis. Additionally, Lab Manager eliminates manual system setup and provisioning tasks.

According to VMware, It takes snapshots of complex multi-machine configurations, captures them to a shared library and assigns them a LiveLink URL that quality assurance engineers can flag and enter into a bug report. A developer then can click on the LiveLink URL to access the multi-machine environment in order to fix the bug.

VMware Lab Manager is set for general availability next month. Pricing VMware Lab Manager Server will start at $15,000 and list prices for VMware Lab Manager bundled with VMware Infrastructure 3 will start at $35,000.

The public beta version is available for download here.  

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.