Monday, August 04, 2008

Australian Partner Conference Virtualization Pre-Pre-Day

Adam Barker (Microsoft Australia) and Jeff "Mr Desktop" Johnson from Microsoft US (Redmond) started the morning - after Danny Beck's introduction - with an overview of what Microsoft sees the nearish future of server virtualization to be, Infrastructure Optimization and Dynamic IT. To paraphrase this session, we need to really understand how to better optimize the infrastructure of our clients using whichever virtualization methods are appropriate - including "leaving it on bare metal" if we want to be able to do the right things by our clients, and obviously Microsoft Hyper-V is a big part of this answer. They felt that Microsoft is better in all areas than VMware except when using VMotion for those guests that need moving in sub-second timeframes, which MS cannot (yet) achieve.

So, I may not agree that MS is really there yet with Hyper-V, but I can see where they are coming from (they have imbibed the KoolAid and need to borg us all). :)

Microsoft's "Dynamic IT" method of "modelising" the infrastructure to be able to make judgements on the best way to deploy or redeploy hardware, servers and services does, however, make complete sense. Without having a holistic view of our client networks, how can we really know how to best implement virtualization strategies?

It was interesting to note that upcoming releases of Microsoft's server virtualization and also their application virtualization (previously known as SoftGrid) will both use the .vhd file format.

Their System Center Management Suite does look nice, however it is definitely not SMB-friendly as far as pricing goes. But that's to be expected right now.

Derek Moir and Philip Duff followed with a session on building your practice with Microsoft vittualization, going into more depth with System Cener Virtual Machine Manager, System Center Data Protection manager, System Center Operations Manager - all the components of the System Center "Server Management Suite Enterprise" which seem to integrate nicely (at least as far as the demo went) and offer management of the complete network infrastructure - VMWare, Hyper-V and real hardware systems, through to patch management and backups.

Leon Booth and Jeff Johnson then followed up on desktop optimization, dealing with VMware's VDI -Virtual Desktop Infrastructure - and comparing it to Microsoft's options - application virtualization (previously SoftGrid), presentation virtualization (Terminal Server), Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (so, so not SMB) and Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs (which I call Windows Fundamentals for Lame Arsed PCs) which is a very expensive way to turn old clunkers into terminal server and MEDV clients. It is likely cheaper to buy the cheapest Dell you can find with Vista Business on it, upgrade it to XP Pro and run the clients on that. :) but anyway...

Basically, as Microsoft doesn't have its own VDI competitor - they do have partners in Citrix and Quest Software who have desktop virtualization applications - they make sure you know that there are other options which they claim will always be better. We all know that VDI will be ideal for some scenarios where TS and/or application virtualization will not be suitable, and we'll also have situations where application virtualization on a terminal server will be better, and all options and combinations inbetween. :)

The Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit (currently at release 3.1) can be used to go onsite, take an inventory of the currently deployed servers and services, and build a report outlining where virtualization can be used to be a business enabler, not just a cool toy. It is a rather cool tool. :)

All up, was the Virtualization Pre-Pre-Day worth attending? Definitely. It gave me a better idea of where Microsoft sees their vitualization focus in the nearish future and it allowed me to make a few relevant comments about virtualization uptake in the SMB marketplace, which may well still be a lot higher than Microsoft realizes. I do hope the rest of the conference is as worthwhile as this session.


The Outspoken Wookie

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