This year Microsoft Invited me to attend the 2010 Microsoft Management Summit. As we have noticed a stronger interest in Microsoft technology this year amongst our customers with the release of Windows 7 late last year, I was delighted with the opportunity to go and review Microsoft’s virtualization and management strategies.
The key note by Bob Muglia (President, Server & Tools Business) started with a restating of the core principles of Dynamic IT which were laid out by Microsoft in 2003.
- Process-led, Model-driven
- Unified and Virtualized
Bob noted that many of the products in the System Center Suite have matured so that the reality of Dynamic IT can now be delivered. Bob also drew a strong comparison between the principles of Dynamic IT and the requirements for Cloud Computing.
The point was made that software development is largely based on software models that originated from the developers within an organization. With increased scale, the maturity of virtualization, and the need to properly stage code into production Microsoft discovered that the IT organization had a stronger influence over the software model than developers. This background was used to introduce several recent or new integration points between System Center and Service Map, Visual Studio and the Lab Management feature, and Hyper-V. Through this integration the demo focused on deploying a new software model consisting of several tiers (web, database etc.) visually represented in Service Map onto a staging environment consisting of Hyper-V virtual machines. Lab Management from Visual Studio 2010 was used to develop and validate test plans. When an error occurred you had the option of taking a screen shot or capturing the state of the VMs making up the software model and emailing them to the development team. Once the code was “corrected” the final configuration was deployed using Opalis Orchestration which reminded me of VMware’s Stage Manager but seems to provide the flexibility of LifeCycle Manager of Citrix’s Workflow Studio.
The keynote then laid out Microsoft’s message around Cloud computing and lessons learned with the deployment of Azure and Bing. These lessons are being used to fine tune the next generation of software to be ‘cloud ready’. Some references were made to software made up of multiple virtual containers that could scale up and down on demand. This sounds much like the BEA Liquid VM development that was being done before the Oracle acquired the company.
It was at this point we got a sneak peak of the next release of SCVMM. One thing I picked up was that XenServer was integrated into the management console. Templates have been extended to include multiple virtual machines as a single application architecture. SCVMM now integrates with WSUS server for patching. The library in SCVMM has been expanded to include App-V application packages which allow templates to include VMs and virtual applications. This also simplifies scaling of additional VMs to meet demand as applications are streamed into new application servers vs. natively installed or scripted into the images.
One interesting thing that was also demonstrated was the ability of SC to monitor VMs in the Cloud or off-premise monitoring. This was provided through a management Pack for Windows Azure; it would seem that if its a Microsoft Cloud it will have a management pack.
This makes Microsoft’s foray into Virtual Lab Automation interesting as it is tightly integrated into Visual Studio and the hosted development platform Azure.