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Virtualization wave ruffles Microsoft foundation

Microsoft proponents would definitely not agree, but the virtualization genie will make operating systems a lot less relevant.

Microsoft is pricing its  upcoming Hyper-V (aka Viridian) virtualization technology aggressively. I know that’s a shock. But the $28 they’ll charge for Hyper-V server is basically the price-cutting move the company has perfected over the years-with Office (bundling four or five apps for the price of two); undercutting Netscape with free Internet Explorer. Ya-de-ya-de-ya.

Microsoft’s purchase of Connectix (and later Softricity) gave it some virtualizaion know-how in what has become a classic ‘if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em’ move.

One player in the application appliance market (hardly a dispassionate observer) summed up Microsoft’s move thus: “They want to make their hypervisor relevant and are making it practically free.  They’re thinking: ‘Good lord, how do we deal with VMware?’ It’s frightening the heck out of them. If you boot a hypervisor you’re not putting the operating system as the base layer,” he notes.

And that fact alone has big-time ramifications. The operating system–Windows–is the foundation of Microsoft’s stack.  “The hard thing for them to deal with is how to adjust to a business model where the ISV or the developer-not necessarily Microsoft– is the face to the customer. They do the life-cycle and licensing stuff.”

For partners, virtualization has been driving a ton of business as customers try to cut hardware and storage costs. The hope is that some of those savings may be funneled into system integration or custom app work. So solution providers should get their VM expertise in order.

Barbara Darrow, a Boston-area writer, can be reached at  

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