Microsoft will use Visual Studio 2010 and SCVMM for virtual lab automation

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Finally Microsoft has decided to leverage the opportunity that its huge developers community represent for virtualization.
The company announced that the next version of its IDE, Visual Studio 2010, will seamlessly work with Hyper-V and System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) to offer a complete virtual lab automation solution.

Specifically, the VLA feautres should appear in the Team System version of the product, now available as Community Technology Preview (CTP).
And because SCVMM supports 3rd party hypervisors (namely VMware ESX) the developers will be able to use them for VLA environments.

Microsoft published an interview with a couple of VS2010 program managers, talking about the new features and showing them in action.
There’s also a PowerPoint slide deck, presented at the Microsoft PDC 2008 conference, that it’s really worth to check.

The companies that compete in this segment are VMware (which acquired Akimbi in 2006), Surgient, VMLogix, and the newcomers StackSafe and Skytap (this last one only offers a hosted VLA service), but it’s VMware that really won the heart of developers so far through its desktop product Workstation.

Since years Workstation offers enhanced capabilities to do software development and testing, and they go much beyond a needful snapshot manager.
With Workstation 6.0 for example VMware introduced a powerful Record/Replay feature, and with the 6.5 upgrade the product also sports a dedicated set of APIs called VAssert, for code debugging.

So far Microsoft did nothing to counter VMware in its own territory, and this allowed the competitor to enter in a number of companies thanks to the end users rather than through the decision makers.
Through the developers community VMware built a brand awareness that it’s now very hard to weaken. It’s good that Microsoft finally decided to do something, despite 2010 still seems too far away.