Azaleos is expanding its OneServer product line to include a managed virtual appliance for Microsoft Exchange 2007 that supports the VMware platform.
A technology preview of the new product will be available starting Sept. 11 for early pilots and is being demonstrated at the VMWorld conference Sept. 11-14 in San Francisco.
The final price of the product is not yet available, but it will cost less than the current $14,995 for the entry-level version of OneServer, said Keith McCall, previously a Microsoft executive and now chief technology officer at Azaleos, which offers on-premises, managed services for Microsoft Exchange.
While Microsoft has not yet endorsed 64-bit virtualization, once the Redmond, Wash., software maker releases a 64-bit version of its hypervisor technology, known as Viridian, and which supports 64-bit guests, the OneServer virtualization functionality will be extended to encompass both the Microsoft and VMware platforms, McCall told eWEEK.
Microsoft has cut core features from Viridian. Read more here.
"We are making the move to go virtual based on significant customer demand. VMware is deployed in nearly all of our customers, and a strong desire to reduce hardware and power costs, improve availability, and speed the deployment of Exchange 2007 is driving more companies to set virtualization targets for their server application infrastructure," he said.
The reality of virtual appliances will revolutionize the IT industry, enabling companies to run heavier loads on server infrastructure—thereby optimizing that investment—and take advantage of how easy it is to move virtual machines around to scale up and out, and improve availability, he said.
The company expects 70 percent of its deployments to be virtual within a year. "Server hardware vendors will need to step up and optimize for virtual appliances, or be left behind in the dust," he said.
Azaleos, which has more than 40,000 Exchange e-mail seats under management, will support VMware for virtualized Microsoft Exchange 2007 by maintaining, in its networks operations center, a complete virtualized version of its standard Microsoft Exchange environment that mirrors the virtual production appliance that is deployed in the customers data center.
This model circumvents Microsofts lack of support for 64-bit virtual deployments of its server applications, and the Azaleos OneStop managed services will support the rapid deployment of patches and updates into the managed virtual appliance, McCall said.
Virtualization allows Azaleos, also of Redmond, to provide a low-cost, highly available virtual infrastructure for Microsoft Exchange 2007 in a virtual VMware environment on just two physical servers and one physical storage device, rather than the four physical servers required just for the three primary server roles, McCall said.
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"This functionality reduces costs, improves availability and reliability, and delivers the Azaleos OneServer solution for the first time completely virtualized, reducing time-to-implementation while at the same time delivering highly available Microsoft Exchange 2007," he said.
Azaleos customers who want to lower their costs are setting virtualization targets for 2008 of between 30 and 100 percent of their server infrastructure.
Products that are ripe for virtualization as a stand-alone project or part of a server consolidation project include Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SharePoint and BlackBerry Enterprise Servers, as they do not use all of the resources of the physical server but often require the deployment of different servers and server roles, McCall said.
While Azaleos already offers the current OneServer and OneServer with MobileXchange physical appliances, one for SharePoint is noticeably missing from its lineup.
Asked about this, McCall said to "watch this space. The company will continue to deliver server applications as managed infrastructure across many solution spaces where IT resources could be freed up by a utility service model. IT personnel should be freed up to focus on strategic matters which fuel the business, reduce costs or improve employee productivity."
Read here about the Exchange update to fix potential iPhone mail issues.
The virtualization of OneServer would enable customers to increase physical server utilization, reduce costs and create an agile e-mail solution.
"Its all part of our ongoing effort to provide the best-possible on-premises managed end-to-end messaging solutions for our customers," McCall said.
Some existing Azaleos customers, like Peter Henley, IT director for Clark Nuber, a firm of certified public accountants, are excited about the companys move into the virtualization space.
"With the Azaleos virtualization solution just around the corner, we are eager to expand our relationship with them. Were confident that the Azaleos model will allow us to leverage virtualization in the same way it has our messaging systems: by decreasing cost, complexity, time to project completion and maintenance," he said, noting that the Bellevue, Wash., company has already seen the benefits of investing in the Azaleos One Server solution.
But for McCall the move is all about making a long-term commitment to ensure that virtualization technologies from both VMware, of Palo Alto, Calif., and Microsoft will be supported for customers.
Microsoft is striving to make Exchange more like an appliance. Read more here.
Given the momentum behind virtualization and customer investments in VMware software, it was a natural next step for Azaleos to focus on a simple way for customers to leverage their investments in VMware technology as part of a broader push toward radically simplifying their overall IT management efforts, McCall said.
"The innovation by us and the industry is removing the barriers that used to exist around virtualizing an Exchange Server environment, and customers can now adopt and quickly realize the benefits of server virtualization for their e-mail environments," he said. "Azaleos is making this move now because customers are not waiting for Viridian before they move to virtualization. They want it now and arent waiting around for Microsoft."
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