Microsoft nabs Softricity in virtualization push

Microsoft nabs Softricity in virtualization push

Microsoft said it will buy Softricity, and detailed other plans to beef up its virtualization portfolio in time for WinHEC.

As part of its ongoing plan to beef up its virtualisation portfolio, Microsoft will acquire virtualisation vendor, Softricity, has revealed a timeline for offering built-in hypervisor technology for Windows Server and introduced a new virtual machine-management product.

This strategy, which the company also will highlight at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) this week, is aimed to compete with virtualisation companies such as VMWare and XenSource, which are ahead of Microsoft in providing hypervisor virtualisation management technology.

Hypervisor technology enables different OSes -- such as Linux and Windows -- to run on the same processor, allowing customers to get more mileage out of hardware running in their networks. Virtualisation refers more generally to techniques that create different, virtual versions of operating systems, servers and storage devices.

Softricity, in Boston, offers software that allows desktop applications to run in virtual containers, so different instances of the same applications could run on computers without interfering with each other, a director in Microsoft's Windows Enterprise Management Division, Felicity McGourty, said.

When an organisation deployed new applications across computers on a network, there was a need for compatibility testing to ensure the new applications will work with existing applications, she said. Softricity's software eliminated that need for testing, McGourty said.

Microsoft did not disclose the terms of the Softricity deal, which is pending regulatory approval. The company expects Softricity's Boston office to remain open after the acquisition.

In addition to its intent to purchase of Softricity, Microsoft also announced it will add hypervisor technology to the next version of Windows Server, code-named Longhorn, no more than six months after the release of the product. Longhorn is expected to be released in the second half of 2007.

Once hypervisor technology was available for Windows Server, customers would no longer need to purchase Microsoft's Virtual Server product, which provided virtualisation and virtualisation management for Windows Server, McGourty said. Microsoft would continue to support Virtual Server while customers used it and would help them migrate to Longhorn with hypervisor when it was available, she said.

Microsoft has also unveiled a new product called Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager, previously code-named Carmine and first discussed by the vendor at the Microsoft Management Summit last month. The product, which will beta in 90 days and be released around the same time as Longhorn, allowed system administrators to manage virtual machines on a network the same way they managde physical machines, McGourty said.

Because the new product is part of Microsoft's System Center family, which also includes Microsoft Operations Manager and System Management Server, it woukd be based on the same code and have the same administration user interface as other products in that suite, she said. This will simplify for system administrators the management of all machines, both physical and virtual, on a network, McGourty said.

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