Valovic on Virtualization

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Microsoft’s New Direction

The trade press and blogland are full of stories about Microsoft milestones (Bill Gates stepping down, Windows XP’s end of life, to name a few.) This is lending itself to much speculation about the company’s future direction, given any number of business model challenges and emerging technology opportunities.

The list is long, but for the moment let’s focus on things like cloud computing, SaaS and other trends being fully exploited by Google as it quietly (or maybe not so quietly) takes over the world. (I tend to think of Google as the brontosaurus in Jurassic Park -- a large beast of formidable proportions with a somewhat likable demeanor that disarmingly belies its great power. But come to think of it, that metaphor only captures a piece of it and lacks sufficient scope and scale, which is why I love the Doug Coupland meme “Is Google God?”)

Clearly, Microsoft has even more reassessing to do and is at what analysts like to call an "inflection point", suggesting the possibility of an “extreme makeover” or at least some sort of major overhaul to capitalize on the shifting winds in IT models and architectures. But, hey, it’s not like the company is happy-valley oblivious to the various and sundry threats eroding its long-time hegemony as was the case for some other IT systems vendors (think IBM pre-Gerstner). The strategic changes are already evident, and virtualization is one of them.

One thing seems clear: virtualization is very much at the heart of the company’s new strategic direction. Analyst Judith Hurwitz sees much of the company’s overall growth potential tied to opportunities for Bob Muglia’s Server and Tools Business. She goes on to say that if the company can make the transition to being a leader in next-generation enterprise computing (including managing large data centers), it could end up “in an extremely powerful position”.

I like Hurwitz’s thinking along these lines. At Tech-Ed 2008, Muglia talked a lot about “Dynamic IT” and the idea of virtualization as a linchpin for data center transformation (although this is an idea that Frank Gens over at IDC has been bandying about for quite a few years, and Microsoft seems to have appropriated it.) System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 (VMM 2008), of course, will be a critical element in all of this with its capacity to manage both physical and virtual machines.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how successful the company might be with this approach. Comment here or fire off an email.

Posted by Tom Valovic on 06/30/2008 at 12:49 PM


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