Microsoft remarks virtualization efforts at TechEd 2006

Bob Muglia, Senior Vice President Server and Tools Business at Microsoft, opened the TechEd 2006 conference this week remarking the effort in virtualization already disclosed at WinHEC 2006 event:

Now let’s talk about those Microsoft promises. I want to start with the first one, which is “Manage Complexity, Achieve Agility.”

This is really focused on our Dynamic Systems Initiative, something we’ve been working on now for about three or four years. It’s an area we’ve been very, very focused on in a consistent way. There are many pieces to this. Knowledge driven management is very important, design for operations with a lifecycle starting with developers all the way going through the IT lifecycle is very critical. And the third piece of it, and the one I want to focus on tonight, is virtual infrastructure and talk about the investments that Microsoft is making together with the industry to use virtualization to revolutionize the way you design your datacenters and roll out applications.

Now, when we think about virtualization, we really think about this at multiple levels. Sort of the level of virtualization that most people think about we would call hardware virtualization. This is what you use when you virtualize the entire hardware, it’s what Virtual Server does, products like VMWare and ZEN work at this level, and it’s a very, very effective way to achieve a great deal of isolation of applications in a packaged format, in our case we call it VHD format for Windows. Those packages are very isolated, but they are not very granular in terms of the level of control you have.

Yet this kind of virtualization, hardware virtualization is very critical, it’s a critical step and one that we’re investing heavily in, and in some ways it’s some of the first things that you’ll see business results on.

There are, however, two more places of investment that we think are pretty important. The middle one, which is absolutely the one that you’ll see the furthest out, this will take another generation of the operating system beyond “Longhorn” to really get this into place, is OS services virtualization. This is where within the operating system we virtualize the key system services, services like Win Logon to allow you to run multiple instances at the same time.

Now, this is maybe not useful in the most generalized of sense, certainly not as much as hardware virtualization, but it’s particularly interesting in hosting environments where you want to run thousands of identities, thousands of different companies on a single server, having those system services be virtualized is a key step.

The third piece, which is one that we do think will be very broadly applicable to everybody in this room and every IT shop, is application virtualization. This is the concept of being able to take and package an application up as a virtual object that can get sent down to the server or computer. It’s particularly interesting in the short run to allow applications to be run in a Windows client environment without having fear of interactions between them.

With application virtualization technology it’s possible, for example, to run two versions of Office on the same machine, which you could not do without this technology; or two versions of your business applications that use different DLLs that are incompatible, different, for example, levels of ADO that I know people have struggled with.

So providing this provides less isolation than, say, hardware virtualization but much more granularity of control. So it’s a series of tradeoffs.

Now, a scenario where we see a lot of important potential we have recently acquired a local company, Softricity, which has been a leader in this space. They have a clear leadership position in terms of application virtualization. And you’ll see us incorporate the Softricity technology into our product in the months and years to come.

So virtualization is very key, we’re making investments across the board…

Read the whole transcript here or watch the webcast here.