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Tech-Ed Keynote Highlights 'Dynamic IT' and Virtualization

Microsoft's Tech-Ed North America event for IT professionals kicked off today with a keynote address on enabling "dynamic IT." That idea was the main concept emphasized by keynote speaker Bob Muglia, senior vice president of Microsoft's Server and Tools Business unit. The talk, given in Orlando, Fla., also consisted of a number of practical demos that displayed the latest Microsoft IT management solutions.

It turns out that the dynamic IT concept is a ten-year Microsoft plan, which is currently in its fifth year. The aim of dynamic IT, according to Muglia, is to reduce IT maintenance costs and "drive business advantage" via Microsoft technologies. Muglia pointed to Microsoft's infrastructure optimization models as a first step for IT organizations to become "dynamic."

Becoming dynamic has nothing to do with personality. It's considered to be an end goal in an overall IT evolutionary scale, which is explained in detail in Microsoft's literature here.

The first demo item at show was Microsoft's Identity Lifecycle Manager 2 Beta 3. This solution is designed to make it easier for IT to manage lists of employees and network access permissions. The management solution is now publicly available with this beta release, and Muglia claimed that IT can use it to administer employee identities without having to write code. Approvals and authorizations can be handled directly within Microsoft Outlook, according to Fred Delombaerde, who demonstrated the application at the event.

Focus on Virtualization
Most of Muglia's keynote presentation highlighted Microsoft's virtualization technologies. Hyper-V, the hypervisor that is part of Windows Server 2008, is now available at the release candidate stage. The final Hyper-V product should be available by late August, according to Muglia.

Hardware and server virtualization products tend to take center stage, but Muglia's speech emphasized Microsoft's current efforts in developing application virtualization technology. With application virtualization, "there's an opportunity to take and separate applications from the underlying operating system image, and allow those applications to be delivered much more effectively without going through a complex installation process," Muglia explained. This technology will appear "over the next few years," he added.

One part of Microsoft's application virtualization strategy is its Desktop Optimization Pack, which is currently available. Microsoft plans to roll out Version 4.5 of the Desktop Optimization Pack sometime this summer. The solution can help IT administrators run older applications that are not compatible with newer operating systems. It will also help lower administrative costs because "the cost of streaming an application and creating a stream package is much less than the cost of creating an install base package," Muglia explained. Microsoft's Desktop Optimization Pack uses technology that Microsoft added after acquiring the company SoftGrid.

At the desktop virtualization level, a demo during the talk showed how Microsoft has integrated technology it acquired from Kidaro. A product called "Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization" will let IT administrators "manage and deploy virtual PCs out to their end users' desktops," according to Jameel Khalfan, who demonstrated the technology. For instance, it allows a business application that is incompatible with Vista to run in a virtual machine. Khalfan said that this desktop virtualization application will be included in the Desktop Optimization Pack when that product is released next year.

Rakesh Malhotra demonstrated a beta of Virtual Machine Manager 2008, which lets IT administrators "manage Virtual Server, Hyper-V and even VMware-based environments" from a single console. The demo featured the use of PowerShell scripts, and Muglia said that the company plans to make PowerShell more broadly accessible across Microsoft's product line. The Virtual Machine Manager app features the use of performance and resource optimization (PRO) tips, which are suggestions on how to better align network resources with user demands.

Interoperability and Web Services
Muglia also talked about how Microsoft is working on interoperability, particularly with the company's Operations Manager product, which currently supports open source "Linux and UNIX environments," he said. Microsoft has also been working on interoperability issues in connecting Web services.

A demo on Web services and interoperability was presented by Jonathan Marsh, director of mashup technologies at WSO2, a provider of open source products for service-oriented architectures. Also attending the demo was Greg Leake, a director at Microsoft's Connected Systems Division. The demo showed how Microsoft's adoption of a common Web service standard enables interoperability, in this case allowing connections via a PHP interface as well as an interface devised using .NET code. It also showed that it was possible to configure a .NET middle tier and have it connect with a Java-based back end component.

"What we're really showing here is Microsoft and open source solutions working together to solve the needs of today's diverse enterprises," stated Marsh, "and we're going from .NET through advanced message security, and advanced Web services, to Java solutions, and to unmanaged code, like the Axis2/C project, which is driving the PHP."

Muglia talked a little about Microsoft's "software plus services" strategy, saying that Microsoft planned to offer "the combination of the best on-premises software together with the best service offerings." Initial Microsoft-hosted offerings include Exchange Online, Live Meeting and SharePoint Online.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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