Microsoft releases VM Manager beta

Microsoft's foray into virtual machine management came closer to reality today with the release of the first beta for its Virtual Machine Manager.

Microsoft has taken a small step forward to improving the ability of IT administrators to manage virtual machines with the initial beta release of its own VM management software.

The System Centre Virtual Machine Manager, which was introduced at the Microsoft Management Summit 2006 in April, is available for download to registered public beta 1 users, the company said. This trial is for test/lab environment deployments only and is available at Microsoft downloads.

When completed sometime in late 2007, the software will have virtual machine provisioning features that let administrators create and install new virtual machine features with an operating system and application fully installed in the desired configuration. The software, which is a standalone server application, also lets managers put virtual machines on the physical server with the best combination of resources and performance for a particular application.

Experts have observed that the ability to configure and manage virtual machines dynamically is still hard to do, and technologies on the market today still handle the problem in a manual fashion. "What we are seeing is still the first generation from all parties," said Jon Collins, a principal analyst at consulting firm Macehiter Ward-Dutton.

"We are trying to build a distributed operating system that runs across machines in the same way today as if  I ran an application and it needed more memory," Collins said.

In May, virtualisation market leader VMware released its Infrastructure 3 package, which added new levels of automation, resource management and capacity planning for servers and storage.

Pricing and licensing for Microsoft's Virtual Machine Manager has not yet been disclosed. The software will support Virtual Server 2005 R2 and virtualisation supported by the upcoming version of Windows Server code-named Longhorn.

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