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Microsoft on the Attack in Virtualization

Look out, VMware. Microsoft is making very real moves in the virtualization market.

Microsoft has made Virtual Server 2005 Release 2 (R2) Enterprise Edition available as a no-charge download. It also released plug-ins to let customers run leading Linux distributions on Virtual Server 2005, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 and Novell SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9.

Microsoft -- in what has all the earmarks of an old-school, one-up move -- made its Virtual Server announcement on the same day that VMware announced the free, public availability of its Open Virtual Machine Disk Format (OVMDK). VMware had made its own VMware Server free back in February.

VMware officials played down the Microsoft move, saying that a lot of partners and customers were already getting Virtual Server for free from MSDN and other Microsoft programs. They also said that VMware's embracing of ubiquitous standards and the cross-platform nature of its products would be competitive advantages over Microsoft. That may be true, as VMware is the runaway market leader in virtualization. But, even runaway leaders shake in their boots when they hear Microsoft make noise in their markets. Get ready for a heated battle.

And in Business Intelligence, Too
BI remains one of the hottest technologies in the industry, and Microsoft is quietly building it into its core desktop and ERP applications. This week, Microsoft acquired ProClarity Corp., of Boise, Idaho, a small BI vendor that develops products that work with Microsoft Office Business Scorecard Manager, Microsoft Office Excel and Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server. The Redmond giant is also building BI into its Dynamics ERP application set.

Thus far, Microsoft's BI efforts, like the Dynamics products themselves, have been mainly aimed at making BI available to mid-size companies and bringing it down from the ivory tower of massively expensive, time-consuming implementations. Look out, though. By integrating BI into everyday applications, Microsoft might quietly be building a challenge to market giants such as Business Objects and Cognos. We might go so far as to wonder -- just wonder -- whether Microsoft is eyeing one of those big players.

And, there's no doubt that BI is the hot technology of the moment. At last week's Convergence conference, BI was buzzing among partners, customers and even Microsoft folks themselves. After all, what good is it having loads of metrics if non-technical people can't make any sense of them?

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Get Ready for Solutions Finder
If you want to top the charts of partners listed in Microsoft's new Solutions Finder, get your customer references in order. The more you have, the higher your profile will be on the site.

Read more about Solutions Finder and last week's Convergence happenings here.

Blastoff for Simonyi
Perhaps overly fascinated by the "Starfield" screensaver in Windows, International Software founder and former Microsoft developer Charles Simonyi is exchanging the frustration of the blue screen for a view of the blue planet. He's signed a contract to blast off into space.

Read more about Simonyi's adventure in the final frontier here.

Posted by Lee Pender on April 05, 2006