VMware Prepares for Hyper-V

As Microsoft readies its virtualization play, VMware offers new desktop and application features.

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ORLANDO, Fla.-Eric Horschman knows that the once-cozy relationship that VMware and Microsoft once enjoyed is about to change in the next few weeks.

"We're clearly about to go into direct competition with Microsoft with its Hyper-V technology," Horschman, director of product marketing for VMware, said in an interview here at the Microsoft TechEd 2008 Professionals event.

Hyper-V is Microsoft's upcoming virtualization technology. A source close to Microsoft said Hyper-V will be released in early July, though Microsoft officials will only say the technology will be released ahead of the mid-August deadline they set for it.

A beta version was released in February when the software company launched Windows Server 2008, and a Release Candidate was rolled out about a month ago.

For the past several years, VMware has been the unquestioned leader in x86 virtualization. However, new challengers big and small have cropped up in recent years, and while that has been bad news for VMware, it has been a boon for businesses that now enjoy not only a rapidly growing number of options and falling prices but also the fruits of the innovation that competition drives.

As Microsoft gears up for the Hyper-V release, VMware and Citrix Systems, which jumped into the fray with its purchase last year of XenSource and its open-source virtualization technology, are continuing to roll out new products and enhancements.

Citrix June 9 released the latest version of its Access Gateway appliance-Version 8.1-now integrated with Citrix XenDesktop, which allows IT departments to create a virtual desktop infrastructure where the desktop images and applications are streamed to the PC from a server housed in the data center.

For its part, VMware June 10 unveiled an application virtualization technology and enhancements to a desktop virtualization product. The company's ThinApp 4 application virtualization offering enables users to run multiple versions of applications on any version of Windows without disruption.

Horschman said the ThinApp technology-which VMware acquired via its purchase of Thinstall in January-is agentless, which allows IT administrators to quickly deploy it without needing preinstalled software on physical or virtual PCs, or having to install new management tools.

"There's no need to touch the [PC's] software at all," he said. "This offers a lot of flexibility."

ThinApp 4 offers Application Link and Application Sync for easier management of virtualized applications. The first allows two virtualized applications to communicate with each other. The second enables remote virtual applications to be updated.

In addition, VMware also upgraded Virtual Desktop Manager 2. The software, which connects remote clients to centralized virtualized desktops, allows IT administrators to centrally manage thousands of virtual desktop PCs simultaneously, easing the burden of managing, patching and provisioning those systems.

VMware also rolled out versions in German and Japanese.

The move illustrates the rapid growth of virtualization, which started as a server consolidation play and is expanding into such areas as the desktop, I/O and storage.