Microsoft Gunning to Steal VMware’s Thunder

Continuing its efforts to wrest market share from incumbent VMware, Microsoft is planning to hold a virtualization event focusing on its own solutions, in Bellevue, Wash., Sept. 8 — exactly one week before VMware’s user conference, VMworld 2008, opens in Las Vegas.

The aim for Microsoft’s “Get Virtual Now” event is to show how the company’s virtualization products enable users to virtualize their systems from the datacenter all the way to the desktop. A key part of the message is likely to continue Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) assertion that IT can manage virtual systems created with its products with the same tools they already in use for their physical infrastructure.

Get Virtual Now will incorporate a trade show and will feature third-party vendors — a number of whom are also partnered with VMware — lining up to pledge support for Hyper-V, Microsoft’s hypervisor .

As a result, the event will allow Microsoft to show off the growing strength of its virtualization ecosystem — a key front in its campaign against VMware, which has a sprawling partnership network of its own, having netted deals with CA, HP, Red Hat, IBM, Symantec and others.

Microsoft’s launch partners include representatives from the hardware world, like Intel, AMD, HP and Dell. The roster also includes VMware’s (NYSE: VMW) parent, the storage giant EMC, as well as Citrix, which has been a Microsoft partner for some time, despite marketing a competing virtualization solution of its own.

Microsoft may also use next week’s event to formally inaugurate some critical new technologies, including Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V — now available in its final form after initially shipping with Windows Server 2008 as a beta — and System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) 2008, which went into public beta in April.

Microsoft’s increasing presence in the virtualization market has drawn several VMware partners to offer Hyper-V compatibility. One is self-service virtualization automation and lab management software vendor Surgient.

Version 6.0 of Surgient’s Virtual Automation Platform, unveiled today, adds support for Hyper-V and Windows 2008 Server, a move toward cross-compatibility that the company sees as essential.

“Microsoft, because of who they are and because of their operating system and their embedding virtualization into it, have a unique opportunity to gain market share in the virtualization space,” Surgient CTO Dave Malcolm told

Microsoft “will have an impact on VMware over time” but will increase the overall size of the market as well, Malcolm added.

Other VMware partners now also supporting Hyper-V are application acceleration appliance vendor Certeon, which recently unveiled the aCelera virtual appliance for VMware, and managed Microsoft Exchange services vendor Azaleos.

It’s unclear whether Microsoft will seize the moment to address a shortcoming in an earlier version of Hyper-V. In May, Microsoft said the beta version of SCVMM 2008 did not work with Hyper-V Release Candidate 1 when it became available for download, although it did promise that it would update SCVMM 2008 to address the incompatibility.

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